Labour MP’s signaled their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn by voting against a motion accusing Tony Blair of misleading parliament in the lead-up to the Iraq War and calling for a fresh investigation.
158 MPs voted down a motion which proposed a committee examine the difference in Mr Blair’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry and the private assurances he gave to George W Bush.
Mr Corbyn who called for Blair to stand trial for war crimes if he was found to have broken the law over the 2003 conflict, failed to turn up at today’s debate and only five Labour MPs voted in favour of the motion.
The motion was led by Scottish National Party (SNP) foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond and a range of other MPs from the Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru – as well as some from the Labour and Conservative camps.
The 439 MPs that voted in favour for Tony Blair, why didn’t they take their families and fight at the front line #Chilcot
— Nadeem Ahmed (@Muqadaam) November 30, 2016
Some 439 MPs voted in defense of Blair while only 70 voted he should be held to account.
The motion said the Chilcot report, published in July, “provided substantial evidence of misleading information being presented by the then prime minister and others on the development of the then government’s policy towards the invasion of Iraq.”
It was opposed by the section of right-wing Labour MPs who subscribe to Blair’s ideas, several of whom argued that the debate was an SNP ploy to split Labour.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected partly on the basis of his opposition to Blair-era misadventures, and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have also attracted criticism for their decision not to attend the debate.
Green co-leader Caroline Lucas said it was a mistake not to attend.
“Top figures in the Labour Party like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell fought long and hard against the Iraq War, and have called for those who led us into the disastrous conflict to be held to account,” she told the Guardian.
“To now back away from taking the action to match their words would be deeply disappointing and would damage the prospects of learning serious lessons from what went wrong in the run-up to war in Iraq,” Lucas added.
The Stop the War Coalition, of which Corbyn was once president, also released a statement saying justice is well overdue.
— Jamie Brotherston (@J_Brotherston) November 30, 2016
“Stop the War fully supports the motion put forward by Alex Salmond in Parliament today calling for a further examination of Tony Blair’s conduct in the run-up to the Iraq War,” the Coalition said.
“There remains much unfinished business after the Chilcot report. Despite the spin surrounding it, the report showed that Tony Blair knowingly tried to deceive Parliament when he said no early decision had been made to attack Iraq and that regime change was not the goal of the invasion.”