Jeremy Corbyn apologises for Iraq War on behalf of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn - credit Labour party
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has issued an apology for the 2003 Iraq war on behalf of his party.
After meeting families of British service people who died in the conflict, Corbyn said sorry for the "disastrous decision" to authorise military action in 2003 by the then prime minister Tony Blair.
The speech followed the publication of the findings of an inquiry by Sir John Chilcot which said Britain had invaded Iraq before peaceful options had been exhausted and that Saddam Hussein had posed "no imminent threat" at the time.
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"Politicians and political parties can only grow stronger by acknowledging when they get it wrong and by facing up to their mistakes," said Corbyn, who voted against the war at the time.
“So I now apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003.”
He added: “That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed.
“They have paid the greatest price for the most serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years.
“The apology is also owed to the families of those soldiers who died in Iraq or who have returned home injured or incapacitated.
"They did their duty but it was in a conflict they should never have been sent to.
“Finally, it is an apology to the millions of British citizens who feel our democracy was traduced and undermined by the way in which the decision to go to war was taken on the basic of secret ‘I will be with you, whatever’ understandings given to the US president that have now been publicly exposed.”
The comments will anger backbenchers loyal to Tony Blair, some of whom heckled Corbyn as he spoke in the Commons yesterday.
Giving his own reaction to the report, Blair said the decision to launch military action had been "the hardest, most momentous and agonising decision" made during his time as prime minister.
However he was defiant that he would make the same decision again.
"I believe that I made the right decision and that the world is better and safer as a result of it," he said.