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    Sir John Chilcot presents The Iraq Inquiry Report at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, Britain July 6, 2016.

    Vindicated by Chilcot: The Two British Politicians Who Stood Up to Blair

    © REUTERS / Jeff J Mitchell
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    Chilcot Report on UK Role in 2003 Iraq Invasion (55)

    Former MPs Robin Cook and Charles Kennedy will be remembered for many things but one of the most important legacies they have left is to stand up for those who were unable to speak for themselves.

    The long-awaited release of the Chilcot report has led to many questions finally being answered. Consequences of the invasion and of the conflict within Iraq which followed are still being felt in Iraq and the wider Middle East, as well as in the UK. The war left families bereaved and many individuals wounded, mentally, as well as physically. After harsh deprivation under Saddam Hussein's regime, the Iraqi people suffered further years of violence. 

    The decision to use force led to profound controversy in relation to Iraq and became even more controversial when it was subsequently found that Iraq's programs to develop and produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons had been dismantled.

    There were many people who spoke out against the war, the public protested, alongside leading figures and politicians from the Labour, Conservative parties and the Liberal Democrats, who all voiced their opinion against a war that was not based on the correct intelligence and has since been recognized as such by Sir John Chilcot, who was critical of Tony Blair's government, which accepted flawed intelligence reports of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. 

    Demonstrators at the rally in London, 15 February 2003, as worldwide protests brought tens of thousands into the streets to show their opposition to a possible US-led war against Iraq.
    © AFP 2019 / Martyn Hayhow
    Demonstrators at the rally in London, 15 February 2003, as worldwide protests brought tens of thousands into the streets to show their opposition to a possible US-led war against Iraq.

    The then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, continued to fight the outspoken members of his party and went into battle with Former President of the US, George W Bush.

    However, regardless of whether they were listened to or not, former MPs, Robin Cook and Charles Kennedy refused to give up.

    The release of the Chilcot report saw vindication for both men who were demonized for standing up against the war, sadly neither lived to see the day.

    Speaking in Parliament after Prime Minister's Questions on July 6, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to the late Cook, who resigned from the cabinet over the Iraq War in a speech to the Commons in March 2003. 

    ​"Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term — namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. 

    It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories," Robin Cook said in his speech to the House of Commons.

    Cook later died of a heart attack while walking in the Scottish Highlands on 6 August 2005.      

    The then Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, was key opponent of the Iraq war and spoke at anti-war rally in Hyde Park in February 2003 to further voice his resistance to what was by then an inevitable conflict.

    Kennedy was condemned by The Sun newspaper and was compared to a spineless reptile.

    "Our country has a principled and a responsible role to play on the world stage but to do so we have to pursue international justice through the United Nations and our government has got to take its people with them. It's patently failing and that is my message for you today. Thank you," Charles Kennedy said in his speech at Hyde Park.

    He died at his home at the age of 55.

    Both of these men finally received the vindication they so rightly deserved after the Chilcot report was released. They may never have got to see the outcome of their fight for justice, which saw them criticized and mocked. However they will be remembered within the Iraq legacy as two fierce opponents of the war, who fought for peace and will be known as two leaders who stood on the right side of history.

    Chilcot Report on UK Role in 2003 Iraq Invasion (55)


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    Chilcot Inquiry, soldier, people, protest, war, politics, invasion of Iraq, Iraq War, House of Commons, Robin Cook, Jeremy Corbyn, Charles Kennedy, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Great Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom
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