Watch as Susanna Reid confronts Tony Blair on Iraq War invasion

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 11:12 am
Susanna Reid grilled Tony Blair on the Iraq War (ITV)

Susanna Reid has grilled former Prime Minister Tony Blair on his government’s reasons for invading Iraq.

During an awkward exchange on Good Morning Britain Reid highlighted the loss of support for the Labour Party after Blair’s government invaded Iraq in 2003.

She prompted the leader to answer “how much responsibility you take and what regrets you might have about that”.

The exchange came during a discussion on the recent loss of support for the Labour Party, compounded by a crushing defeat at local elections.

Blair suggested that the party’s shift to the left under Jeremy Corbyn was to blame for its loss of support.

What did Susanna Reid say?

Discussing historical examples of Labour losing support Reid raised the Iraq War.

She said: "I’m harking back obviously to what happened in Iraq and the loss of support for labour as a result of that, and how much responsibility you take and what regrets you might have about that."

An off-guard Blair retorted: “the problem, Susanna, is that this is what the left of the Labour Party say.

"The difficult is that there have been four Prime Ministers since me. All of them, actually, supported removing Saddam [Hussein] so that would be an odd reason for Labour to be failing [in elections]”.

Reid questioned the response, stating: "Saddam, of course, wasn’t the reason we went to war in Iraq."

Eager to steer away from the conversation, Blair shot back: “look, we can debate Iraq or not."

But an undeterred Reid carried on, explaining the reason for invasion given by Blair was "weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to be there,"

Again, Blair refused to be drawn on the issue, stating: “sure, sure, okay. We can debate all of that.

He then highlighted that the party still retained support in key seats in the 2005 election.

He said: "but the point is that in 2005 when I fought that third election, we won all of those County Durham seats.

"We kept Hartlepool comfortably - the Tories, I think, were in third place with a few thousand votes.

"So I think it would be odd if people decided to support Labour then, waited when after all we've had 11 years of a Conservative government, then decided to punish Labour for those reasons in 2021."

What did Tony Blair say about Labour winning back support on Good Morning Britain?

The former Labour leader was asked by Campbell if he believed that the Labour Party could win another general election.

Blair, who won three general elections, responded that the party needed to reclaim the centre ground.

He blamed the party’s shift to the left for the Conservative Party’s current dominance.

Blair said: “If you go back 120 years in Labour's history there are three occasions in which the far-left have got near to the leadership of the Labour party; 1935, 1983, 2019. All of them have been the worst defeats we’ve had, but only in the last defeat, 2019, did the far-left actually capture the leadership of the party itself.

Tony Blair suggested that Sir Keir Starmer needed to present a clear alternative vision to Jeremy Corbyn, stating: “you can agree with Jeremy Corbyn, don’t agree with him, but it was a dramatic change in the type of Labour Party that had been put forward and when you do something like that you can’t just recover easily, you’ve got to spell out what is now different.

"It’s not just a different leader, the question is what’s your vision for the country? Where do you stand as a Labour Party? Are you still with that left agenda?

"Or do you go to being - in my opinion the only way Labour ever wins - you’re in the centre ground, you’re a moderate, forward-thinking political party, working with businesses as well as trade unions. Personal responsibility as well as social responsibility. Where do you pitch your tent? What’s the ground you’re trying to hold?”