Pressure mounts on Blair over devastating report into Iraq war

2016-07-10 20:39:46 GMT2016-07-11 04:39:46(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Larry Neild

LONDON, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced mounting pressure Sunday in the wake of the devastating Chilcot report into the 2003 Iraq war.

Lord John Prescott, who served under Blair as his deputy prime minister, said Sunday the 2003 invasion of Iraq by military forces from Britain and the United States was illegal.

Labour politician Prescott, said he would live with the catastrophic decision for the rest of his life.

"A day doesn't go by when I don't think of the decision we made to go to war. Of the British troops who gave their lives or suffered injuries for their country. Of the 175,000 civilians who died from the Pandora's Box we opened by removing Saddam Hussein," said Prescott.

The veteran politician, who now serves in the House of Lords, outlined his views in his column in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Meanwhile, leading Conservative MP David Davis said Sunday he plans to submit a motion to the House of Commons on Thursday to hold Blair in contempt of Parliament over the Iraq war. Such moves are rare in the British parliament.

Davis' move could provoke a debate in the House of Commons to discuss whether Blair had misled parliament.

Following the release of the long awaited report last week into the war, Blair apologized, but said he stands by his decision to join the United States in the campaign which saw the toppling of Iraq's president Saddam Hussein.

Most of Britain's national newspapers focused after the report on a message Blair sent to U.S. president Bush before the invasion saying "I am with you, whatever..."

In his article Sunday, Prescott described that statement by Blair as devastating, with Prescott adding he agreed with the former UN secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, that the war was illegal.

The troubles within Britain's main opposition Labour party continued with embattled leader Jeremy Corbyn responding Sunday to the proposed challenge to his leadership by Labour MP Angela Eagle. Corbyn urged Eagle to think again about mounting her challenge, which she is scheduled to do Monday morning local time. Instead he called for the party to unite.

Eagle said deputy party leader Tom Watson, party chief whip Rosie Winterton and Parliamentary Labour Party chairman John Cryer had all tried to get Corbyn to stand down, but he had refused.

Virtually all of Corbyn's shadow cabinet resigned after a vote of no confidence by his own MPs, making it difficult to fill all of the vacancies in his front bench team.

A critical moment could come later this week when the Labour Party's ruling body, its NEC, meet to decide whether Corbyn should automatically see his name on a leadership ballot paper, or whether, like Eagle, he will need to win backing from a percentage of Labour MPs and MEPs (Members of the European Parliament).

Corbyn insisted Sunday his name would automatically go forward as serving leader, adding he would challenge a decision that stated he needed to be nominated.

Political commentators said Sunday that the civil war between Corbyn and his Labour MPs could threaten the future of Britain's so called working class political party.

Meanwhile, in the governing Conservative Party it is not all sweetness and roses, with one of the contenders for the leadership of that party under fire.

Home Secretary Theresa May and energy minister Andrea Leadsom are involved in a head-to-head for the leadership, with the winner becoming Britain's second ever female prime minister.

A furious row has erupted after mother-of-three Leadsom was accused of saying that having children made her a better choice of leader. Her rival, May, has no children.

Some Conservatives have called on Leadsom to quit the leadership race in view of the comments she made.

The Sunday Times reported Sunday that around 20 MPs are ready to form a breakaway party if Leadsom is elected as Conservative leader.

Leadsom supporter, former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith commented: "Project Fear from the EU referendum campaign has morphed into 'Project Smear'." He said in one interview: "The establishment are ganging up... it's all about 'let's gang up on Andrea'."