Thu, 07 Jul 2016
NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has said the UK should not be put off getting involved in future armed conflicts despite being “deceived” over the war in Iraq.
Mr Benyon, who served in the military between 1981 and 1984, was speaking following the damning Chilcot report which was released yesterday (Wednesday).
The report, which took seven years to complete, was heavily critical of the decision making and intelligence gathering by the then Labour government which led the country into war with Iraq in 2003.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News Mr Benyon said: “I don’t think in general there were any great surprises.
“The Government of the day took the country into a war on the basis of a managed information activity which many feel they were deceived by.
“I wasn’t in parliament at the time my colleagues tell me they went into the chamber intent on voting against the war but were swayed by Tony Blair who they felt clearly knew more than he was able to tell them.
“He had made his mind up and given his decision to the United States that Britain would be a part of this.
“So yes the country was deceived.”
The Conservative MP added that it was impossible to tell if the war which toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime had ultimately been beneficial for the middle-east.
He added: “That line of reasoning in one sense it’s a futile process, but in another sense we must not be shy of intervening in the future.
“What may have been wrong then may not be wrong in the future.
“If this means countries like ours don’t get involved in military action in the future then we must not let that happen.”
Mr Benyon, who now sits on the the government’s Defence Committee, said the decision to introduce the National Security Council on the committee’s recommendation means similar events are unlikely to unfold in the future.
“It is a much better system so it will be hard, but not impossible, to deceive parliament or the country because of this,” he said.
The MP for Newbury since 2005 claimed the decision to go to war had led to a public distrust of politicians which may have fed into last months EU referendum.
He said: “It’s hard to measure but certainly there is an attitude that is prevalent in the country since Iraq that is more distrustful of the political classes and the government.
“All the main political parties in the country campaigned to remain
“It’s impossible to say Iraq delivered the four per cent which won the vote for Leave but it certainly contributed to a certain mindset and that’s a matter for those of us on the remain side that we all have to address.”