JEREMY CORBYN said yesterday that public opposition to the war in Iraq had been “vindicated” and called on politicians who ignored pleas for peace to “face up to the consequences.”
Speaking in Parliament after the publication of the long-awaited Chilcot report, the Labour leader said its conclusions proved the 2003 invasion of Iraq was “an act of military aggression launched on false pretences.”
He said Parliament had been “misled” by then-prime minister Tony Blair, describing the infamous “dodgy dossier” claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction as “only the most notorious of many deceptions.”
Directly referring to Mr Blair, he concluded: “Those who took the decisions laid bare in the Chilcot report must face up to the consequences of their actions, whatever they may be.”
Mr Corbyn detailed the consequences: the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and 179 British service personnel, the displacement of millions of refugees and an explosion of sectarian civil wars and terrorism. The fallout was still being felt on Sunday when an Islamic State bomb attack in Baghdad killed more than 250 people.
Mr Corbyn said the invasion and subsequent “colonial style occupation” had been a “catastrophe” for Iraq, “fuelled and spread terrorism” in the Middle East and “led to a fundamental breakdown in trust in politics” at home.
The veteran anti-war campaigner added: “The tragedy is that while the governing class got it so horrifically wrong — many of our people actually got it right.
“On February 15 2003, over 1.5 million people spanning the political spectrum and tens of millions of other people across the world marched against the impending war, in the biggest demonstration in British history.”
Mr Corbyn said though he was “not satisfied” but “saddened” in the wake of the report. Turning to the lessons that can be learned, he called for a “more open and independent relationship with the United States and for a foreign policy based on upholding international law.”
He also called for a new War Powers Act, which would give Parliament the final say over any military intervention, and is set to be debated by MPs next week. Mr Corbyn met with families of British and Iraqi people killed in the conflict last night.