Defiant 'I Did Right Thing on Iraq'

By Reiss, Charles | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Defiant 'I Did Right Thing on Iraq'


Reiss, Charles, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: CHARLES REISS

A DEFIANT Tony Blair today refused point-blank to apologise in the row over the war in Iraq, saying: "I think we made the right case and did the right thing."

In what could prove to be a significant retreat, he said he believed the search operation in Iraq would uncover evidence of weapons of mass destruction "programmes" - rather than the weapons themselves.

The Prime Minister faced his most detailed grilling yet on Iraq in his twice-yearly appearance before an array of senior MPs in the Commons. In the course of an 80-minute cross-examination he: . Denied that Parliament or the public had been misled . Dismissed charges from former international development secretary Clare Short and others that he was determined to join America in waging war regardless of the United Nations . Insisted that both Cabinet and Parliament had been fully consulted.

Mr Blair said there had been " massive" parliamentary debate as well as a decisive vote and "Cabinet meeting after Cabinet meeting" to discuss the issue.

"The idea I got together a couple of people in the office over a cup of coffee and decided to take the country to war is somewhat overstretched, if I may respectfully say so," he said.

Mr Blair was never pushed into real trouble by the questioning. He was several times forced on to the defensive, however, when asked why no chemical or biological weapons or their components had been found.

The Prime Minister said he had "no doubt at all" that the intelligence last year was valid.

Iraqi scientists were now being questioned by the newly created search teams. Mr Blair added: "I am very confident they will find the evidence that the programmes existed. …

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