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Blair ‘marginalised’ Brown over Iraq
London, Jan 31 (Agencies):
Published on 1 Feb. 2010 12:06 AM IST
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Gordon Brown was ‘’marginalised’’ by Tony Blair throughout most of the build-up to the invasion Iraq, former international development secretary Clare Short has claimed. Ms Short, who gives evidence this week to the Iraq Inquiry, said Mr Brown feared that Tony Blair would use a quick victory over Saddam Hussein to strengthen his political position at home and remove him from the Treasury. She said that while Mr Brown - who was chancellor at the time - did not speak out in Cabinet against the war, he did not support it. Ms Short - who resigned following the invasion in protest - also dismissed Mr Blair’s claim in his evidence to the inquiry on Friday that he had to act against Saddam Hussein following the 9/11 attacks in the United States as ‘’ludicrous’’ Her comments - on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show - will add to the pressure on Mr Brown when he gives evidence to the inquiry himself - expected to be either late February or early March. Downing Street has said that Mr Brown is keen to take the opportunity ‘’to state the case why Britain was right to take the action that it did’’. Alastair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director, told the inquiry that he was one of the inner circle of key ministers consulted by Mr Blair in the build up to the invasion. However, Ms Short insisted he only came in in support of the military action on the eve of the invasion after deputy prime minister John Prescott patched up a reconciliation between him and Mr Blair. ‘’In most of the run up to the war Gordon and Tony were in one of their fallen out phases and Gordon was marginalised and not included and not in the inner group,’’ she said. “He was saying to me ‘They think they are going to have a quick successful war and then they will be very powerful and then they will have a reshuffle’. “He thought they wanted him out of the Treasury, and they were going to offer him the Foreign Office and he was saying ‘I won’t accept it, I’ll join you on the backbenches’. “He didn’t oppose the war, but he didn’t support it. He was pre-occupied with other things.’’ She also accused Mr Blair of changing his argument of the case for war in his evidence to the inquiry. “His great big argument that after September 11 and the attack on the Twin Towers, there was a danger that rogue states would give weapons of mass destruction to organisations like al Qaida and that is the reason for going to Iraq, he never argued at the time,’’ she said. ‘’And it ludicrous, there was no link of any kind - as everybody knows who is serious - between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida, so there was no such threat.’’

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