18 June 2009

The Iraq inquiry: A U-turn there will be

Our Dear Leader will have to prepare himself for a major U-turn.  Not only is there likely to be a major rebellion next week when the Commons debates the inquiry, but two peers who chaired previous inquiries into the Iraq conflict, Lord Hutton and Lord Butler of Brockwell, support that the bulk of the evidence is heard in public.

The Indy further reports that General Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, said the Government had not consulted him:

I was not privy to the discussions.  I am sure the option of part in public and part in private was considered and I think that that is an option that has got a lot of merit to it.

The views of Dannatt, Butler and Hutton can’t just be dismissed.  A number of questions should be asked.

Just what guidance did the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, give Brown before he made the announcement?

Who was consulted and by whom?

Why is the former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler, at variance with the present one when both would be privy to exactly the same secret material?

Did Brown rush the decision before O’Donnell could seek advice and guidance from the people that should have been consulted?

What, if any, legal opinions were taken before the announcement was made?

The political consequences for Brown in having to make a U-turn are obvious.  Moreover, this could well further expose the way No10 operates under Brown and just how politicised his senior officials have become.

UPDATE: Butler will speak later in the Lords.  Nick Robinson has the details.  It is pretty damming stuff.

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