Jeremy Corbyn will miss today’s Commons vote on whether to trigger a parliamentary investigation into whether Tony Blair misled MPs in the run-up to the Iraq war.
The Labour leader has decided to impose only a one-line whip on his MPs for the vote - meaning they are not obliged to attend.
Corbyn decided to reject pleas from Labour MPs that the party be forced to oppose the controversial SNP-led motion attacking Blair.
In a compromise, any Labour MP who does turn up for the debate will have to vote against condemning Blair.
And as The Independent reports, Corbyn himself will miss the vote as he is “committed elsewhere”. The Huffington Post understands the Labour leader will instead be at a constituency related event.
Corbyn has repeatedly criticised Blair for taking Britain into the 2003 war alongside the US.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said Corbyn should not “back away” from his long-held opposition to the war.
The SNP’s Alex Salmond has drawn cross-party support for his motion calling on the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to probe any differences between Blair’s public statements in the lead-up to the invasion, and private correspondence with then US president George Bush revealed by the Chilcot inquiry.
“At a time when Blair is planning his political comeback, it is high time that this Parliament and its Committees at long last brought this dark stain on UK foreign policy to a close by investigating how such grave misleading occurred and taking the appropriate action to avoid it happening again,” the former SNP leader said.
Salmond has accused the ex-prime minister of presenting misleading information to Parliament, and the motion notes the “contrast between private correspondence to the United States government and public statements to Parliament and people and also in the presentation of intelligence information”.
The SNP points to a note Blair wrote to the US president in 2002 stating: “I’ll be with you, whatever,” as proof that he misled MPs about his intentions.
The motion is backed by the Greens, Plaid Cymru, Tory MP Sir David Amess, and Labour’s Kate Hoey.
Lucas said: “Top figures in the Labour Party like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell fought long and hard against the Iraq war, and have called for those who led us into the disastrous conflict to be held to account. To now back away from taking the action to match their words would be deeply disappointing and would damage the prospects of learning serious lessons from what went wrong in the run up to war in Iraq.
“Labour should not shy away from their role in Iraq, and shouldn’t be protecting Blair and his allies from being held to account for the actions which led this country into military intervention.
“We must learn lessons from the Iraq disaster. That’s why I’m working with MPs from across the political divide in calling on the on the Public Administration Select Committee of the House to further examine the lack of any process of accountability following the damning evidence presented by the Chilcot report. We were taken to war in a duplicitous way, and our political system must match that knowledge with a process that holds those responsible to account.
“I’d urge Labour to show some principled leadership & join the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party in beginning the process of properly holding Blair to account.”