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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 14:18 GMT
Beckett: Hans Blix negative
Margaret Beckett
Now that's not to say, there's not still a terribly dangerous security situation in some parts of Iraq, and it's undoubtedly true, and it's what people are trying every day to tackle. But we never hear about the things that have gone better in Iraq
Margaret Beckett

The Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has gone onto the offensive over the situation in Iraq.

In an interview with BBC One's Politics Show to mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion, she attacked the former UN arms inspector Hans Blix, who said that apart from the end of Saddam, everything in Iraq since the invasion had been a disaster.

Mrs Beckett said: "It might be what most people think, but it's complete nonsense. I mean I'm really quite surprised at Hans Blix saying something so, so foolish, as well as so negative.

"I mean does he think that the fact that so many people in Iraq, voted in their election, is of no importance - it was important enough to them, to risk death to do it, and there's been an enormous amount of work, schools re-built, health centres, you know electricity and water infrastructure repair, massive, massive amount of change.

"I was looking at some of the background information being produced for the anniversary and it's quite remarkable, the amount of change and improvement that there has been, which we never, ever hear about.

"Now that's not to say, there's not still a terribly dangerous security situation in some parts of Iraq, and it's undoubtedly true, and it's what people are trying every day to tackle.

"But we never hear about the things that have gone better in Iraq."

I want to see the best Deputy Leader that there can be and I haven't made up my mind who I shall vote for
Margaret Beckett

On the future leadership of the Labour Party, Mrs Beckett said that she would like Gordon Brown to succeed Tony Blair and that it would be better for him not face a serious challenge.

She said: "To some extent I hope not actually, because I think, as you know, I hold the view that Gordon is the person who should be the next Prime Minister, and I think that the good thing will be if he is able to concentrate on what that will mean and what he needs to do, to help to take this country forward to even greater success."

The Foreign Secretary also said that she saw no reason for a woman to become Deputy Leader of the party:

"I want to see the best Deputy Leader that there can be and I haven't made up my mind who I shall vote for because I think it's, I mean it's potentially a wide and excellent field and it's really hard to see whether they can all get enough nominations to stand is another matter."

She added: "I've never made the argument I don't think that it had to be a woman per se."

Turning to Europe, Margaret Beckett rejected calls from the President of the European Commission and the German Presidency of the EU for the ill-fated 2005 European Constitution to be revived.

She said: "There's been a certain kind of mood music, shall we say, from some quarters that, oh well, really hardly anything [about the Constitution] needs to change. We just tweak it a bit here and there or maybe we even put more in to it. I think that's not just going to fly."

Mrs Beckett dismissed the idea that there might be progress on a new treaty before the end of Germany's six month Presidency of the EU (June 2007):

"I have to admit that I think that this is an uphill task, certainly to do it during the German Presidency not least because they've made it quite clear that they realize that you're not likely to get much clarity, until after the French elections, and that comes quite close to the end of their Presidency, so if they can get consensus on a rounder package, that everyone can agree, that will be absolutely great, but I think it will be difficult."

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Margaret Beckett interview transcript
18 Mar 07 |  Politics Show


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