Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas has asked the Prime Minister to apologise for his party’s part in supporting the Iraq war.
The Green MP, who campaigned against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, spoke in a debate about the Chilcott report on the war which was published today (Wednesday 6 July).
She said: “We’ve heard a lot of criticism of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair – all of it justified.
“But could I ask the Prime Minister to reflect on his own role and of his colleagues in the Conservative Party who voted for war in Iraq?
“The public will say, you were the official opposition, with the job of asking the tough questions.
“You heard Robin Cook’s powerful speech demolishing the government’s case. You had voices in your own party arguing the invasion would be a catastrophe.
“Would it not be a step towards restoring public trust in this House to offer some form of apology for the decision to support the war?”
Mr Cameron said that she wanted to replay the arguments of the day but that it would be better to focus on learning the lessons contained in the report.
He said: “The honourable lady wants to replay all the arguments of the day but I do not see a huge amount of point in that.
“Members of Parliament came to this House, listened to the arguments and made the decisions in good faith.
“They can now reflect on whether they think the decisions they took were right or wrong.
“Instead of what she suggests, I think that we should try, as Sir John Chilcot does, to learn the lessons from what happened and find out what needs to be put in place to make sure that mistakes cannot be made in the future.”
In the same debate the Labour MP for Hove, Peter Kyle, said: “From my early and hurried reading of the report, I can see no evidence that anybody acted in bad faith.
“However, I am very aware that the report refers to a war that started 13 years ago. There have been several conflicts since. We intervened in Libya with airstrikes but not ground troops and in Syria we did not act for several years.
“Is there anything about those subsequent conflicts, in which the Prime Minister led, that leads him to disagree with some of the report’s conclusions?
“That would give us an updated view so that we do not base all our future actions on a report about a war 13 years ago?”
Mr Cameron replied: “Questions like that probably need to wait for the debate because they need longer answers.
“The only point I will make now is that in the case of Libya obviously we decided not to put in ground troops. That had the advantage of ensuring that there were not UK military casualties but of course it had the disadvantage that we were less able directly to put in place a plan on the ground.
“The point I have tried to make today – maybe not as clearly as I should – is that these things are very difficult by their very nature.
“We can have the best military plan and the best post-conflict plan – those are definitely needed – but even then there is no certainty that we will ultimately be successful.
“We should not pretend that there is some perfection that we can achieve. We can do a lot better than was done in the past but we will never be perfect.”