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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 22:48 GMT
Blair 'prayed to God' over Iraq
Tony Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair has told how he prayed to God when deciding whether or not to send UK troops to Iraq.

Mr Blair answered "yes" when asked on ITV1 chat show Parkinson - to be screened on Saturday - if he had sought holy intervention on the issue.

"Of course, you struggle with your own conscience about it... and it's one of these situations that, I suppose, very few people ever find themselves in."

Anti-war campaigners attacked Mr Blair's comments as "a joke".

Mr Blair told show host Michael Parkinson: "In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well."

"When you're faced with a decision like that, some of those decisions have been very, very difficult, most of all because you know these are people's lives and, in some case, their deaths.

Politics is very hard to have a friendship in
Tony Blair

"The only way you can take a decision like that is to do the right thing according to your conscience."

Anti-war campaigner Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon died in Basra in 2004, said: "A good Christian wouldn't be for this war.

"I'm actually quite disgusted by the comments. It's a joke."

Dr Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP and honorary associate of the National Secular Society, said the comments were "bizarre" and warned against politicians making "references to deity" in public life.

On the show, Mr Blair also talks about his most embarrassing prime ministerial moment.

When giving a press conference in France, he was asked if there were any French policies he would like to imitate.

Mr Blair, trying to answer in French, replied: "I desire your prime minister in many different positions."

Avoiding answers

Asked if he would serve a full term as prime minister, he said he was "getting on" with a busy programme and it had to be judged according to the work he had to do, rather than the time.

"If I sound embarrassed answering these questions it's because I've spent so long trying to avoid answering them," he said.

He was also asked about his relationship with Gordon Brown.

Parkinson said: "The trouble is, prime minister, you keep saying, 'Gordon and I are good pals' but no-one believes you."

Mr Blair answered: "Yeah, but politics is very hard to have a friendship in...

"There is only one top job and it's not an ignoble ambition to want it, so there's all those difficulties there.

Cannabis incident

"People have written that we are about to fall out drastically and go for each other for years and years and years, and whatever the difficulties, it's still a good partnership and one I'm very proud of.

"I'm proud to call him a friend and I always will be."

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Blair recalled Labour's 1997 election victory. "People used to like me then," he said.

Mr Blair also talks about the first time his father-in-law, actor Tony Booth, - an old friend of Parkinson - visited his home after he and wife Cherie had married.

Mr Booth had asked if he could light a cannabis joint, Mr Blair said.

"I was thinking this is my father-in-law, surely this should be the other way around.

"I said no, incidentally."

Parkinson, ITV1, 2155 GMT on Saturday, 4 March

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