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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Howard - Blair's lost credibility
Michael Howard
Howard: Criticised Tony Blair
The prime minister has lost all credibility with the people because of his decision to go to war with Iraq, Tory leader Michael Howard has claimed.

Responding to the Butler report on pre-war intelligence, Mr Howard questioned whether the country would believe him if he had to take it to war again.

The finding Mr Blair had acted in "good faith" was no defence, Mr Howard said.

He criticised the prime minister for failing to pass on caveats and cautions in the UK's intelligence on Iraq.

"It is now clear that in many ways the intelligence services got it wrong but their assessments included caveats, cautions and qualifications." Mr Howard said.

The prime minister has said mistakes were made and he accepts responsibility, but it is not a question of responsibility but credibility
Mr Howard

"The prime minister chose to leave out these caveats, qualifications and cautions," when he made the case for war, he said.

"Their qualified judgements became his unqualified certainties," Mr Howard said.

The question the prime minister now had to ask himself was "does he have any credibility left," the Tory leader added.

Mr Howard detailed the warnings the joint intelligence committee had given to the prime minister on the "limited" and "patchy" nature of intelligence on Iraq.

He then pointed to Mr Blair's claim that information on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction was "extensive, detailed and authoritative".

'Tricked'

"The prime minister has said mistakes were made and he accepts responsibility, but it is not a question of responsibility but credibility", Mr Howard told MPs.

Mr Howard was replying to Mr Blair's statement on the Butler Report to MPs in the House of Commons.

Mr Blair countered that the Tory leader and his party had agreed with the decision to go to war - and had not been "tricked" into making that judgement.

"We both agreed Saddam was a threat, we both still think Saddam was a threat... let's concentrate on making Iraq better," Mr Blair concluded.


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