Brown confirms Iraq inquiry

Gordon Brown has committed the government to an inquiry into the Iraq war but says it should not take place yet.

The prime minister made the concession in a letter to Fabian Society general secretary Sunder Katwala.

The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq takes place this Thursday and Mr Katwala had used the impending milestone to call for an “independent public inquiry” into its intelligence failures, the war itself and the ensuing struggle for security.

Mr Brown’s reply stated “there will come a time when it is appropriate to hold an inquiry” but added “we believe that is not now”.

“Despite the progress being made on the security, economic and political fronts in Iraq, the situation remains fragile and could easily be reversed,” he warned.

“At this critical time it is therefore vital that the government does not divert attention from supporting Iraq’s development as a secure and stable country.”

Although the prime minister insisted the government has already committed itself to an inquiry at some stage, Mr Katwala said it had not been clear whether this was the case.

“Some ministers, particularly in the final months of Tony Blair’s premiership last year, had suggested that the case for an inquiry in due course was understood, but there has also been a counter-argument that several inquiries had already been held into different aspects of the war and that it was now more important to look forward,” he explained.

“I think it is very good news that the prime minister is personally committed to an inquiry on Iraq.”

Mr Brown has pushed forward with troop withdrawals from Iraq since inheriting the Iraq situation from Tony Blair last year, claiming the improving security situation has allowed the transfer to ‘overwatch’ duties.

All four provinces in southern Iraq previously under British control are now run by Iraqi authorities, with UK troop numbers due to fall to 2,500 within the next two months.