07/10/2015 11:11 BST | Updated 07/10/2015 11:59 BST

Iain Duncan Smith Blames Failure As Tory Leader On 9/11 World Trade Centre Strike

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Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith delivers his speech to delegates in the third day of the Conservative Party annual conference

The 9/11 terrorist attacks and subsequent wars were the cause of Iain Duncan Smith's failure to become prime minister, he claimed this week.

The now work and pensions secretary, who was ousted as Conservative leader after losing a vote of no confidence by his own MPs in 2003, told a fringe meeting at his party's Autumn conference that he failed to get a bounce in the polls because of attacks on the Twin Towers.

"The day before I got elected, the Twin Towers were struck. So first of all I got no lift from my announcement. It had to be buried the following day because hardly anybody paid attention"

According to Politics.co.uk, he went on to claim that then prime minister Tony Blair had "milked" the wars that followed, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, "for all it was worth".

"When the nation is at war there is only one person [the public] look to. It is the prime minister because the prime minister is powerful. He is the one that directs it. And Blair of course milked that for all it was worth. It was impossible for weeks and months to get anywhere near any domestic debate.

"We did make some progress on [the issue] of healthcare and then bingo, the issue of Iraq happened. And from that moment onwards it was almost all war.

"So no complaint. I just simply make the point that it is very difficult to make headway as leader of the opposition unless you have the playing field to fight on and that is domestic policy."

He denied that his short-lived two-year tenure was a result of his own policies being unpopular with voters, and also issued a strong warning to fellow party members, telling them MPs should not see Jeremy Corbyn as a joke.

"If the government focuses too much on the opposition, the opposition then is allowed to develop.

"I don't think the public like it if all they get from a government is slagging off the opposition."

His comments came in conversation with BBC journalist Allegra Stratton at a fringe event hosted by the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank Duncan-Smith co-created.

He came fresh from a keynote speech to thousands of conference delegates, in which he said the Government's controversial benefits crackdown would teach parents that "children cost money".