Clare Short, who resigned from the government in protest over the Iraq invasion and now sits in the Commons as an independent MP, on Tuesday accused the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of treating Parliament as a “rubber stamp” to get its backing for the invasion.
Giving evidence before the Iraq inquiry, Ms. Short, who was Secretary of State for International Development at the time, said Mr. Blair and his “mates” took all the crucial decisions relating to the invasion, ignoring the Cabinet and Parliament.
“Everything was done on a wing and a prayer,” she said.
A five-member committee, chaired by John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, is conducting the inquiry aimed at learning “lessons” from the Iraq invasion.
Ms. Short’s evidence came amid reports that Mr. Blair may be recalled by the committee to reconcile “inconsistencies” in his testimony last week. These are said to relate to the then Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith’s advice on the legality of the war.
Ms. Short, who resigned two months after the invasion, said she was “shocked” by Lord Goldsmith’s advice that the war was legal.
Initially, Lord Goldsmith had doubts about its legality without a second U.N. resolution authorising military action but days before the invasion he gave it the go-ahead, allegedly under pressure from the Blair administration.
She said that in light of the facts that had since emerged about Lord Goldsmith’s “doubts and his changes of opinion”, she believed that the Cabinet was misled.
“I think for the Attorney-General to come and say there’s unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading.”
“I think he misled the Cabinet. He certainly misled me, but people let it through,” she said describing the invasion as “historically inaccurate”.