Blair branded a liar as poll rivals blaze away at Iraq invasion
Reuters | April 26, 2005
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, faces demands to hold an inquiry into Britain's case for war in Iraq as his rivals in the general election next week home in on his support for the US-led invasion.
The Liberal Democrat Party, which opposed the war, placed advertisements in newspapers showing a smiling Mr Blair beside the US President, George Bush, under the headline "Never again".
"Britain's international reputation has been damaged by the way Tony Blair took us to war," the party's leader, Charles Kennedy, said yesterday. "Tony Blair says history will be his judge. He is wrong. The British people will be his judge."
Mr Kennedy was due to call later in the day for a public inquiry into Britain's decision to go to war.
Iraq rose to the top of the election agenda at the weekend, with the Conservatives accusing Mr Blair of lying over the 2003 war.
A Sunday newspaper reported that before the invasion the Attorney-General gave six reasons why Mr Blair might breach international law if he went to war without a second United Nations resolution. The Attorney-General later ruled the invasion was legal, leading opponents to claim he had been put under pressure.
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, fell short of denying the report. "I'm not confirming what is alleged to have been in a leaked document," he told the BBC. "I'm simply not confirming it."
The Tory leader, Michael Howard, said Mr Blair had overstated the "sporadic and patchy" material gathered by Britain's intelligence services on whether Iraq had banned weapons.
"He has told lies to win elections. On the one thing on which he has taken a stand in the eight years he has been Prime Minister, which is taking us to war, he didn't even tell the truth on that," Mr Howard told the BBC.
Asked if he was calling Mr Blair a liar, he said: "Yes."
Mr Blair tried to refocus debate on the eight years of economic growth Britain has enjoyed under his government, with a joint news conference with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.
His case was bolstered by a letter to the Financial Times signed by 63 business leaders, praising Labour for delivering "unprecedented" economic growth and stability.