Tony Blair's slim victory in the Commons
Tony Blair was able to withstand a minor set of defections in yesterday's Iraq inquiry vote. The Times of London:
Tony Blair said today that his Government had not ruled out holding an inquiry into its conduct of the invasion of Iraq, only hours after narrowly avoiding defeat on a Commons motion calling for exactly that.
MPs last night rejected a cross-party motion calling for an inquiry after an impassioned Commons debate last night which saw the Conservatives and other opposition parties accused of undermining British troops in Iraq.
Soon afterwards, however, Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, threw the Government into confusion by telling the BBC that a "retrospective" inquiry would be held sometime in the future. Government spin doctors described that remark as a "slip of the tongue".
At Prime Minister's Questions today, Mr Blair said that an inquiry now would send the wrong signals to both the fledgling Iraqi government and insurgent groups.
"We certainly do not rule out such an inquiry and we said in our own motion that lessons must of course be learnt and it’s important always to do that," Mr Blair said. "But this is not the time for such decisions."
"Had that motion gone though last night it would have sent a signal that would have dismayed our coalition allies, it would have dismayed the Iraqi government and it would have heartened all those that are fighting us in Iraq," Mr Blair added.