Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Faces His Toughest Grilling on Iraq as Poll Reveals He Has Lost Trust

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Faces His Toughest Grilling on Iraq as Poll Reveals He Has Lost Trust

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES REISS

TONY BLAIR today faced his most detailed grilling yet over Iraq, as the latest opinion poll showed he had lost the trust of most voters.

The Prime Minister, with the row over the war still raging, was appearing before an all-party array of senior MPs for his twice-yearly cross-examination in the Commons.

Aides said he would deliver a "robust" defence in the two-hour session. But he faced continued demands for a full independent inquiry headed by a senior judge into the decision to go to war, and public backing for the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein appeared to be plummeting.

Today's opinion by Populus for The Times showed just 47 per cent believing it was right to take military action, down 11 points on a month ago. The number against, 45 per cent, was up by the same amount.

More seriously for the Prime Ministera clear majority of the voters, 54 per cent, say they "wouldn't trust him further than I could throw him". Just over 40 per cent disagree.

Mr Blair faced renewed demands to apologise for the so-called "dodgy dossier" on Iraq, issued in February, which turned out in large part to be lifted from an old academic thesis.

Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the cross-party Commons foreign affairs committee, added to the pressure saying the Prime Minister should have put the record straight as soon as the source of evidence against Iraq became clear, soon after the dossier was published.

The committee's report concluded that Mr Blair had "inadvertently" misrepresented the document to the Commons at the time when he told MPs it was intelligence-based. …

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