Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn just gave his highly-anticipated response to the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry, but he passed up the opportunity to directly criticise former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Speaking to the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, Corbyn described the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as “an act of military aggression launched on a false pretense” but didn’t launch a direct verbal attack on Blair.
In fact, the Labour leader, who voted against the invasion and has long been an opponent of military intervention, didn’t mention the International Criminal Court or accusations that Blair should be tried as a war criminal.
This is really surprising given that he was widely expected to “crucify” the former Prime Minister.
Despite not once mentioning Blair’s name, the Labour leader condemned the government’s decision to invade Iraq in strong terms. Here are some highlights from his speech.
- “It [the invasion] led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of refugees.”
- “The occupation that followed fostered a lethal sectarianism that led to a civil war.”
- “The invasion and occupation of Iraq were a catastrophe.”
Corbyn also lauded the British public for opposing military action when the majority of MPs supported the motion.
“While the governing class got it to horribly wrong, the people got it right,” Corbyn said. “If only this house had been able to listen to the wisdom of the people.”
He also took a subtle jab at administrations of the past, primarily the government of Margaret Thatcher, which had a diplomatic relationship with Saddam Hussein during the 1990s.
“We were campaigning against that regime when the UK and US governments were supporting it,” he said.
More to follow …
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