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29 January 2010

Blair: no regrets

Disappointment for those craving an apology.

By James Macintyre

Towards the end of this afternoon’s session at the Chilcot inquiry, Tony Blair revealed that “not a day goes by” when he does not “reflect” on the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. It was an interesting moment for those fascinated by the former prime minister’s mindset.

But asked if he had any regrets, Blair declined to offer any, merely drawing on lessons for “nation-building”. And in a line that is bound to dominate the television news this evening, he said that the war was “divisive and I am sorry about that”. Nevertheles, he insisted, the world is more secure with Saddam and his sons out of power in Iraq.

In the final, theatrical flourish to a day of drama, Blair was politely asked again if he had any regrets. “Responsibility,” Blair said, but not regrets.

It was at this point that someone in the audience behind him exclaimed, “Come on . . .” For a split second, Blair flinched. But then he was back on form to complete a display of lawyerly and rhetorical genius that saw him succeed in helping shape his own legacy despite all the revelations about this ghastly event — the element of his premiership by which he will forever be judged.

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