Calls for Iraq inquiry reach fever pitch

Demands for an inquiry into the war in Iraq are reaching fever pitch today, with Gordon Brown facing a coalition of opposition parties in the Commons.

Returning from the region to tell MPs about the timetable for withdrawal, which would see UK troops home buy next summer, Mr Brown was faced by sustained calls for an immediate inquiry.

“Can the prime minister tell us today why he has not announced an inquiry?” Tory leader David Cameron asked in response to the Commons statement.

“Does the prime minister accept that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past we will make them again in the future?”

The Conservatives, who supported the war, are leading the calls. They are supported by the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National party (SNP), Plaid Cymru, and various other smaller parties, such as Respect.

“I’ve always said this is a matter we would consider once our troops come home,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Brown has long argued that an inquiry would be detrimental to combat operations while troops are still in the region, but opponents say the argument is on its last legs now a timetable has been established in all but name.

In a passionate and forceful speech, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: “The government must not end this war as it started it – in secret, unaccountable, behind closed doors.

“When will the prime minister apologise for what he did [when he signed] the cheques for George Bush’s invasion?”

But Mr Clegg also turned his fire on the Tories for voting for the war in the first place, saying they had “let Britain down”.

The SNP also targeted the Conservatives. Their Westminster leader and defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson, said: “Now that there is a timetable for withdrawing our forces, there is no reason why we cannot have a timetable for an inquiry.

“We must learn the lessons from the worst UK foreign policy decision in living memory. Our brave troops have had to pay the price of an illegal conflict forced by Tony Blair, paid for by Gordon Brown and supported by the Tories.”

Mr Cameron argued previous inquiries had occurred while troops were still deployed.
Opponents of the war also point to America, which has conducted several inquiries into the war while troops are still in the region.

The Conservatives stipulated that any future inquiry should be “robust” and interview all members of the war Cabinet.

British troops are set to be reduced from their current level of 4,100 to under 400 by July 31st, with the remainder dedicated to naval training.

Mr Brown announced the Basra memorial wall would be brought to the UK as a monument to British sacrifices in Iraq.