Tony Blair “trashed” his reputation by deciding to sign the UK up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, Diane Abbott said today.
Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn apologised on behalf of the Labour Party for the war after the Chilcot Inquiry published its damning verdict.
Blair has expressed “sorrow” and “regret” for the mistakes made in the war, but he has resolutely stood by his decision to launch the invasion and the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Abbott said there was “no question” that the invasion had led to chaos in the region.
“It’s not about attacking Tony Blair personally,” the shadow health secretary said. “It’s about all the British soldiers who died, the thousands of Iraqi’s who died and the catastrophic results for the region.”
“Jeremy doesn’t engage in the politics of personal destruction, he leaves that to other people,” she said.
“I am not going to be harsh about Tony Blair, he has destroyed his own reputation.”
She added: “There’s no question that the Blair-Brown government did some amazing things in schools, hospitals and the rest of it but their reputation has bled to death in the sands of Iraq.”
The long-delayed Chilcot report insisted that Saddam posed “no imminent threat” at the time of the invasion, and the war was unleashed on the basis of “flawed” intelligence.
And in a withering assessment of its aftermath, the probe found the military intervention ended six years later “a very long way from success”, with the “humiliating” spectacle of UK troops in Basra making deals with local militia who had been attacking them.
Blair said he took responsibility for “mistakes in planning and process” identified by the report, and felt “more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know” for the grief of those whose loved ones died.