Mike Gapes on Chilcot: I will not apologise for voting for Iraq War

MP Mike Gapes at VHP Ilford Hindu Centre pictured earlier this year.

MP Mike Gapes at VHP Ilford Hindu Centre pictured earlier this year. - Credit: Archant

The Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said he would not “apologise” for voting for the invasion of Iraq, after the much anticipated Chilcot report was released today.

The Iraq Inquiry, headed by Sir John Chilcot, found that Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in 2003 did not exhaust “peaceful options for disarmament” before the invasion.

Ilford South’s Labour MP, who has represented the constituency since 1992, voted with the government at the time, and today he said he did not regret doing so.

Mr Gapes told the Recorder: “I haven’t apologised for that vote because I believe getting rid of the Ba’athist regime, who had invaded Iran and Kuwait, was a necessary measure to try and build a different kind of society in Iraq.

“I would say, contrary to what some people have said, the report did not say Tony Blair mislead Parliament.

“We were working on intelligence services’ information, and if there was faulty British information there was also faulty German information and faulty American information.”

He continued: “If Saddam [Hussein] or his sons had still been in power today even more people would have been killed and displaced in the Syrian civil war.”

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Mr Gapes, who was chair of the foreign affairs select committee for five years, said his friendships with Iraqi-Kurds and Iraqi democrats, who were persecuted by the dictator, also influenced his decision.

The Chilcot report found that Hussein was “undoubtedly a brutal dictator”, but added that Mr Blair’s self belief influenced heavily influenced the decision.

The veteran Ilford South MP disagreed with the latter statement.

“At the end of the day Parliament voted through the decision after debates that lasted for months,” he said.

“It wasn’t the government taking us into war, it was Parliament.”

Mr Gapes added that there were many mistakes following the invasion, but the USA had to take its share of the blame as well as the UK.