VICTORIA PRENTIS MP SPEAKS IN DEBATE ON CHILCOT INQUIRY
On 30 November 2016, Victoria Prentis MP spoke in a debate on the Chilcot Inquiry and Parliamentary Accountability.
The below account is taken from the official House of Commons Hansard from Tuesday 15 November 2016:
Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): I was not in the House at the time of the vote, but I was a civil servant, and I wonder whether my hon. Friend would comment on the fact that the proper involvement of officials, rather than sofa government, could have prevented some of the excesses in 2003.
Sir David Amess (Southend West)(Con): My hon. Friend makes a wise point. It is yet another lesson to be learned.
On 13 July, there was an exchange between my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe. My right hon. Friend said:
“It seems from the Chilcot report that, at some point between December 2001 and possibly March 2002 but certainly by July 2002, Mr Blair effectively signed Britain up to the American military effort… Under American law, to go to war on the basis of regime change is entirely legal. They do not recognise the international laws that render it otherwise, so for them regime change is a perfectly legitimate casus belli.”—[Official Report, 13 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 360.]
My right hon. and learned Friend intervened and said that
“with hindsight…given that Hans Blix was perfectly willing to carry on with inspections, if the Americans could have been persuaded to delay for another month, all this could have been avoided… The Americans dismissed Blix, however, and regarded him as a waste of time; they were trying to get him out of the way.”
My right hon. Friend replied:
“That is exactly right. That should have been the stance that Mr Blair took, but he did not. He chose instead to come to Parliament to misrepresent the case… Finally, Mr Blair was asked by Tam Dalyell”—
a great parliamentarian—
“about the risks of terrorism arising from the war, but the Prime Minister did not give him an answer—despite having been told by the JIC and by MI5 that it would increase both the international and domestic risk of terrorism and would destabilise the states in the area.”—[Official Report, 13 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 362.]
I am grateful that my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex has said that whatever the result of today’s debate his Committee will look at this issue again. In six years, the former Prime Minister involved us in wars in Iraq, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. I am very concerned about that record. With hindsight, I should not have been partisan. Instead, I should have listened more carefully to the wise words of Robin Cook and Clare Short. We owe this to all those British servicemen and women who lost their lives as a result of the Iraq war. The world has been completely destabilised by the disastrous decision that Parliament took, and the general public will not understand if, after spending all that time and money on the Chilcot report, we did not put in place a mechanism by which lessons can be learned. I also think that the former Prime Minister should be brought before a Select Committee.