Brown to face Iraq inquiry soon thanks to Clegg pressure

It’s nine days since Nick Clegg challenged Gordon Brown to volunteer to appear before Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the Iraq war this side of the general election “before people decide how to vote on his record in government?” And now it seems that Nick’s pressure has paid off – the BBC reports:

Gordon Brown will give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry before the general election, the BBC understands.

Mr Brown, who has said he is “happy” to face the inquiry whenever called, had been under pressure to do so before the election, which must be held by June.

The inquiry’s chairman is expected to confirm later that the PM will be asked to appear but will not set a date. However, the BBC understands he will appear in late February or early March.

You can re-live the exchange between Nick and Mr Brown, either on video courtesy the BBC or via the Hansard transcript, here on LDV.

Nick has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to face the Chilcot Inquiry:

It is well known that the Prime Minister was a key figure in Britain’s decision to invade Iraq. It is only right that Gordon Brown should explain his role in this disastrous foreign policy failure before asking the British people for their vote.”

This is an excellent result for Nick. Good in its own right: the Prime Minister should be asked about his role in the invasion of Iraq. And good for Nick’s growing stature as leader: once again, as over the Gurkhas and Michael Martin, it is Nick who is making the running, and punching above his weight at Prime Minister’s Questions.

This in stark contrast to David Cameron, whose string of lacklustre Commons’ performances are beginning to be noticed even by his friends at The Spectator. Here’s how the magazine’s Coffee House blog compared the performances of Nick and the Tory leader at this week’s PMQs:

The LibDem leader took a pop at Labour with a very smart weapon. He wondered why the government hadn’t acted to stop RBS lending tax-payers’ money to Kraft which is about to sack Cadburys staff. That’s three bogymen in one. … [Labour/Tory MPs] hate him because they can see he’s capable, plucky and politically shrewd. The house has strange ways of honouring talent. …

Cameron risks turning into the Rafa Benitez of Westminster. He’s living on a reputation which is rapidly fading from memory.

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2 Comments

  • Sadly, good performances at PMQs do not a good election result make – ask William Hague L(

  • Nick Clegg is to be congratulated in pushing Gordon Brown into volunteering to appear before the Chilcot inquiry. But why is similar pressure not being put on David Cameron and the rest of the 2003 Tory leadership?

    The terms of the Inquiry are to consider “the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken”. The Tories were heavily implicated in that decision making process, and should also be subjected to examination on how and why they were prepared to accept the government’s propaganda in favour of war.

    There can be no doubt that if Blair had been defeated in the crucial vote in the Commons on 18 March 2003, as would have happened if the Tory leadership had been more critical, the government would at the very least have had to face a vote of no confidence. Could even Blair have taken the country to war if he had lost such a vote? This would probably have been the case if the Tories had been more prepared to look dispassionately at the evidence. But he won the vote, and buoyed by this, he pressed on, with the consequences we all know.

    Of the present Conservative leadership, David Cameron, William Hague and George Osborne all supported the government to reject the rebel amendment opposing the official stance. Chilcot should be asking why, and the Lib Dems should be pressing him to do so. Nick can at least be secure in the knowledge that all 53 Lib Dem MPs voted against the government.

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