Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bush Accused of Leaving Blair on a Limb over Iraq

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bush Accused of Leaving Blair on a Limb over Iraq

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

A SCATHING attack on George Bush for failing to give Tony Blair political backing over Iraq was launched today by Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the UN.

He said there was widespread concern among Number 10 officials and figures "close to Tony Blair" that the President was effectively leaving his British ally hanging out to dry.

The criticism from one of Bill Clinton's former right-hand men was interpreted as a reflection of increasing dismay in No 10 at the warlike rhetoric from the White House.

It came as pressure on Mr Blair from Labour MPs intensified, with former Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle warning that the Premier faced "a real fight" if he backed US attacks.

Mr Holbrooke used a BBC interview to expand on criticisms he first made in a newspaper article this week that Mr Blair was "getting nothing back" from President Bush in return for unstinting support.

"It is reflected in the drop in his support on this issue in the polls in the UK," he said. "Tony Blair has been America's staunchest friend and supporter since 11 September. I am embarrassed that the US government has not taken account of his domestic political needs."

He predicted that Britons would back military action willingly providing the allies first sought a peaceful resolution to the crisis through the UN.

"Isn't it better to have tried and shown the world the UN route was not viable?" he asked.

Signs of a split between London and Washington have been emerging all week.

In a report to a Commons committee published today, Jack Straw said he was considering a deadline by which Saddam must comply with UN demands to allow weapons inspectors into Iraq.

The intervention by the Foreign Secretary put him at odds with the latest mood music from Washington, where senior figures are increasingly talking about removing Saddam from power regardless of whether inspectors are given access. …

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