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The Blairites to vote against investigating Tony Blair

Labour MPs to vote against investigating Tony Blair over Iraq war

Overwhelming majority’ of parliamentary party opposes re-examining alleged discrepancies in former PM’s statements

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A private meeting of Labour MPs has voted overwhelmingly to oppose an SNP motion to investigate Tony Blair for allegedly misleading parliament, with MPs calling for the leadership to impose a three-line whip against the motion on Wednesday.

The Guardian reported that SNP MPs led by Alex Salmond will put down a motion at their opposition day debate, backed by MPs from six other parties, calling for a parliamentary committee to investigate the difference between Blair’s public assurances to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war and private comments he made to then US president George W Bush.

Labour, Conservative and Plaid Cymru MPs and Green MP Caroline Lucas have said they will support the motion, Salmond told the Observer. The committee could eventually recommend sanctions against the former prime minister, Salmond said, including stripping him of his privy council membership.

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His motion calls on MPs to recognise that the inquiry “provided substantial evidence of misleading information presented by the then prime minister and others on the development of the then government’s policy towards the invasion of Iraq as shown most clearly in the contrast between private correspondence to the United States government and public statements to parliament and people.”

At a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party on Monday night, there was considerable anger about the motion. Sources said chief whip Nick Brown asked for an indicative vote on where MPs stood and MP John Cryer, the left-wing chair of the parliamentary Labour party, which opposed the Iraq war, condemned the motion to loud applause.

“An overwhelming majority voted to oppose the SNP motion,” one Labour MP said. “It was a powerful speech by the avowedly anti-war Jon Cryer who said that he’s always believed the Iraq war was wrong but also that Tony Blair never lied.”

It is understood both shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner both raised their hands in favour of opposing the SNP motion. Labour MPs will now raise the issue with the shadow cabinet, to push for a tougher line against the motion.

Another Labour MP said they understood the leadership had been inclined to impose a one-line whip, which would have allowed MPs more freedom to vote in favour investigating Blair.

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