Lord West: Tony Blair was 'looking for a reason' to invade Iraq
Tony Blair had made his mind up to go to war in Iraq and was "looking for a reason to actually do it" long before the 2003 invasion, according to a former naval commander.
Labour peer Lord West, who served in the conflict, said it was untrue for the former Prime Minister to claim he only approved military action after failing to get the United Nations to back it.
The former security minister's explosive comments, in an interview with The House magazine, came just two days before Sir John Chilcot published his long-awaited report into the war.
Lord West said: "I think there had been a decision that we were going to invade Iraq, that that was going to happen, but they were looking for a reason to actually do it.
"Of course Blair and everyone else will say 'no we didn’t make the decision until right up to it'. You can always say that can’t you? But I would not have told the fleets, the Royal Navy and the Marines, to be ready for war in the northern Gulf by the end of the year, I would not have sailed the Mine Counter-measures Force for the Middle East, so they were in place for operations.
"You don’t wake up in the morning and think that – some bastard told me to do it. That’s why I did it.
"All the people involved say ‘we hadn’t made our decision right up until the UN resolution’ and all these other things. Well, you can argue that you never make the final decision till you make your decision. But actually they’d bloody decided. That’s the reality."
The publication of the Chilcot report is set to cause fresh controversy within the Labour party, with Jeremy Corbyn and his left-wing supporters expected to call for Blair to be tried for war crimes.
But Lord West said: "It will be used by Momentum and people like that to say how awful these Blairites are. But I don’t think it will do what we wanted it to do, which was to let people really study it to learn the lessons.
"I will be fascinated to see what it says. What one really wants out of it is lessons so that we don’t make the mistakes again. I have a horrible feeling what other people want is to be able to get at people. It should be there to learn real lessons.”