The Labour party will apologise for its controversial decision to send troops to Iraq in 2003 if he is elected its leader, frontrunner candidate for the post Jeremy Corbyn has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian , the 66-year old Labour party veteran, who was one of the founders of Stop the War Coalition against British involvement in Iraq, said that he would issue a public apology for the “deception” on which Britain entered the war (that the Saddam Hussein government had weapons of mass destruction) and for the suffering caused to the Iraqi people.
“Let us say that we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law,” Mr. Corbyn told The Guardian .
It was against much public opposition that the then Labour Party prime minister Tony Blair decided to join the U.S.’s military intervention in Iraq in 2003. Britain lost 179 soldiers in the war.
Mr. Corbyn was among a relatively small group of Labour members of Parliament who strongly opposed the decision. His announcement now of a public apology on Iraq by the party whose government led Britain into the war should he become its next leader does not surprise, as it is of a piece with his forthright positions on war, peace, foreign relations and defence that he has been campaigning on.
For example, he has also said that if he becomes Prime Minister in 2020 he will not renew Britain’s Trident Nuclear missile system, and that the £100 billion saved by doing so would be redirected to publically funded schemes in sectors such as housing, education and health.Stalled inquiry
Mr. Corbyn’s statement comes at a juncture when public pressure on the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, which has delayed submitting its report by six years, is growing. Mr. Corbyn was critical of the delay but said that the apology need not wait. “We don’t have to wait for Chilcot to know that mistakes were made and we need to make amends.”
The Chilcot inquiry is now under pressure to set a cut-off date for the submission of its report by the David Cameron and the families of those who were killed.
The inquiry was set up by former prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009 to look into why Britain joined the America-led invasion of Iraq.
Headed by Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry was to submit its finding in a year. Sir John has ascribed the delay to a process known as Mawellisation, which gives those criticised in the report a chance to respond, and thereby secures the report from future legal challenge.