Tories vow to stop 'kow-towing to US'

Britain would stop kow-towing to the US under a Tory government, Michael Ancram, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said yesterday.

He accused Tony Blair of "distorting" the evidence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction before the war, putting further distance between the Opposition and the Government over Iraq. Although he insisted the war was right, Mr Ancram said suspicions were growing about the case the Prime Minister made for it, with too many unsubstantiated claims about WMD, unanswered questions about what Mr Blair knew and arrogant dismissals of doubts.

"Why, Mr Blair? The case for war was sound. You didn't have to distort it," he told the conference in Harrogate. "It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Here truth is the inexorable casualty of Blair."

The Conservatives would keep Britain's special relationship with America, the deputy leader said, but he added: "Our relationship to the United States will be one of genuine partnership not of subservience. When we disagree we will say so. Where we can persuade we will do so."

He also accused Mr Blair of surrendering Britain's sovereignty to Europe and abandoning the nation's interests. "And all so that Tony Blair is never isolated or left behind. Never can one man's neurosis have cost his country so much for so little."