Tony Blair strikes back at Nick Clegg over Chilcot report into Iraq war

Former Labour Prime Minister also took a swipe at the Coalition’s 'inaction' over the three-year-long civil war in Syria

Deputy Political Editor

Tony Blair hit back at Nick Clegg on Monday after the Deputy Prime Minister condemned the delays dogging publication of Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq inquiry report.

The former Labour Prime Minister also took a swipe at the Coalition’s “inaction” over the three-year-long civil war in Syria.

The Independent disclosed that the Iraq report will not be published until 2015 at the earliest, six years after the Chilcot inquiry was ordered.

That could mean the next general election being fought against the backdrop of heavy criticism of the Blair government’s support for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Mr Clegg wanted those who faced criticism in the long-awaited document to accept that “it is just time to get this report published”.

He said: “This was one of the most momentous, in my view one of the most catastrophic decisions in British foreign policy - I would say the most catastrophic decision - since Suez.

“It is quite right that as a country we learn the lessons, we understand the truth and that those who might not like to be subject to further scrutiny subject themselves to the further scrutiny which will be included in the Chilcot report”.

In an angry response, a spokesman for Mr Blair said: “If Nick Clegg is implying Tony Blair is the reason for the delay that is completely wrong. Tony Blair has as much reason as anyone for wanting the report published.

“Not least because it gives him a chance to defend himself against Nick Clegg’s assertion that removing Saddam Hussein from power was ‘the most catastrophic decision since Suez’, whilst daily the consequences of inaction over Syria become ever more apparent.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Cabinet Office has been in a constructive dialogue with the inquiry team over recent months, with a clear view to meeting their declassification requests.

“This has involved several thousand documents, subject only to ensuring that national security and foreign policy objectives are not compromised as provided for in the protocol agreed at the outset of the inquiry. That process should be concluded shortly.”

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