Blair on Iraq: "Happy to go through it all again"

I'm ready to face inquiry, says Blair

Tony Blair has emerged on CNN to make his first public comments on the Iraq inquiry since it opened last week.

He insists he's ready to face scrutiny:

I've been through these issues many, many times over the past few years and I'm very happy to go through them again.

To which we can only reply: "So are we, Tony, so are we."

Unsurprisingly, Blair denies the Mail on Sunday's exclusive report that Lord Goldsmith wrote to him in July 2002 warning that removing Saddam Hussein from power would be illegal.

He also insists that he does not feel "betrayed" by the former US ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, who told the inquiry that Blair's position on regime change "tightened" after the 2002 meeting at Bush's Crawford ranch.

Blair ends, amusingly, by misquoting President Truman:

I think it was one of your presidents that once said, "If you can't stand the heat don't come into the kitchen", and that's my view of politics.

If Chilcot does his job (and I remain he confident he will), Blair will be wishing by the end that he was out of the kitchen.


Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.