Boris Johnson has expressed sympathy with calls for Tony Blair to face criminal prosecution for taking Britain to war in Iraq, but said the former prime minister was too "eel-like" to ever be convicted..
The mayor of London told LBC radio on Monday morning that he feels "guilty" for voting in favour of military action in 2003 when he was a Conservative member of parliament.
At the weekend the Mail on Sunday reported that David Cameron had increased the pressure on Blair by urging the Chilcot Inquiry to publish its findings as soon as possible. It has been widely reported Chilcot will be highly critical of the former prime minister's handling of the American-led invasion.
Boris said if he had the long-delayed report he would publish it immediately. "Someone like me, who basically had good faith about what the British government was telling us, who thought there must be a plan to deal with the aftermath in Iraq. I could not believe it as things unfolded in the way they did.
"I feel guilty because I voted for the wretched thing. I would love to know more about it. I would like to see this report published."
He added: "I would like to understand more deeply on what basis a prime minister, who at that time commanded so much trust, was able to persuade parliament and the country and me to go for war in Iraq with absolutely catastrophic consequences."
Asked by a caller to the radio show whether Blair should face criminal prosecution if the report found he had misled the country, Boris said "it depends whats Chilcot says".
"I think it would be hard to mount criminal charges, you'd have to show some sort of malfeasance in public office which would be very difficult to prove. I happen to think in the case of Tony Blair it would be quite difficult to secure a conviction, he is a very eel-like customer, it would be very unlikely you'd get him."
He said Blair was a "very adept and agile lawyer" but the caller who wanted the former prime minister prosecuted had his "heart in the right place". Boris added of the former Labour leader: "You can have some very nice eels."