06/07/2016 The Papers


06/07/2016

No need to wait to see what's in the papers - tune in for a lively and informed conversation about the next day's headlines.


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let nobody down at all. That is it from us. Coming up next, The Papers.

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Hello. Welcome to our look ahead to what the papers will bring us

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tomorrow. I'm joined by Lance Price, political commentator and the

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political commentator at the Evening Standard. Let's look at the front

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pages. We can start with the FT. They read on the Chilcot report.

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They also have a story about French attempts to lure highly paid bankers

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from the UK after Brexit. Unsurprisingly, the Metro leads with

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the Chilcot report, focusing on Tony Blair's defence of his decision to

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invade Iraq. The Telegraph has a similar front

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page, with the former Prime Minister saying, I would take the same

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decision. The Times labels the fallout from the Chilcot report as

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Blair's Private War. The Mirror puts Blair and George Bush side-by-side

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on its front page. The Guardian is quoting Blair's memo

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of support to President Bush in the lead up to the Iraq war. The Express

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also focuses on Mr Blair's insistence that he would go to war

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again. Here is the Daily Mail. They go as far as to call Tony Blair a

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monster of the allusion. Let's begin, and as we can see from that

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run through, clearly, one story is very big, unsurprisingly. Lance,

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let's start with you, because you'd knew Tony Blair very well. The

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Mirror among others choosing to focus on these memos that have been

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declassified as part of the enquiry, particularly the relationship

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between Tony Blair and George W Bush. I think this is probably what

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people were most looking for from the report, what it would say about

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whether or not Tony Blair and George Bush had made an irrevocable

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decision months ahead of when any announcement was made to go to war.

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And the nearest you get to that is this memo, which we hadn't seen

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before, in which Tony Blair says, I'll be with you, whatever. Which

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is, as a quote, pretty firm sounding. It goes on to say all the

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difficulties involved in what is coming up. It also puts a lot of

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pressure on Bush to go for the United Nations option. Actually, if

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you take the memo in the Browns, I don't think it amounts to an

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absolute firm and definite commitment that there would be war.

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People were looking for this to be the smoking gun. As Lance points

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out, the memo runs to several pages. I don't think anyone will really

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have had their opinions changed about Tony Blair or the decision to

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go to war in Iraq as a result of the Chilcot enquiry. I think that those

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people who at the start of the day were very antiglare and --

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anti-Blair will feel that Chilcot's opening remarks on publishing the

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report were very damning of the former Prime Minister, but equally,

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Tony Blair's superlative is an Tony Blair himself, Alistair Campbell,

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one of your former colleagues wrote a blog saying that Chilcot

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vindicated him because he did not live. I think very few people would

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have had their opinions changed by this. The memos were the most

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interesting part in that some of us were looking for some sort of secret

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deal that was signed up to buy Tony Blair with George Bush, and there

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was nothing that was found by Chilcot that suggested a smoking

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gun, as Lance says. It was interesting in terms of what it

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showed us about the relationships, nevertheless, between the two men,

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and the psychological insight into Tony Blair and how he felt about

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George Bush. Chilcot picked up on that when he talked about how one of

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the lessons that could be learned was how we dealt with our allies,

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notably the US, UK relationship, and reminding his audience that Britain

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and the United States had a very long and close relationship that

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could withstand occasionally not having absolutely unconditional

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support, and suggesting that, in future, leaders might want to bear

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that in mind. Tony Blair obviously always had the reputation of always

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being George Bush's poodle. Some would say, unfairly. Many people,

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having read those memos today will think he went a bit too far and was

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overconfident. Chilcot said that as well. He was trying to get as close

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as he could to George W Bush in order to be able to influence him,

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and the arguments will continue to go on, even after the Chilcot

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report, about whether he stood any real prospect of doing that. But it

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is pretty clear, and Chilcot credits him with that, that he certainly

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tried to soften George W Bush and to push in the diplomatic direction for

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as long as he could. The other issue that divides people, and it is

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covered in the Times, is Tony Blair's internal struggle. Was there

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one? A lot of people, today, looking at the press conference, people who

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never liked Blair wanted to go to war were saying that those were

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crocodile tears. Other people, saying that Blair has been crushed

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and there has been a personal cost. Crushed is probably too strong a

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word, but he has been deeply affected by the impact of the war

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and how it went wrong. When he says that he felt it very personally and

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thinks about it every single day, I am sure he is sincere. How could he

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not? It hangs over his reputation, which of course, he cares about,

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like all politicians. It makes it difficult for people to form a

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balanced judgment about him as a prime minister. His private war goes

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to the heart of whether or not it was one man's decision and whether

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or not he was circumventing Cabinet Government. He was then using every

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power of persuasion that he had at his disposal to almost sort of force

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Parliament and public opinion to go with him. I think there is a little

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rewriting of history there. There was an awful lot of discussion in

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Cabinet, as many of his Cabinet colleagues have been saying today.

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And there was a full debate in parliament, a full debate in public,

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and people forget now, with hindsight, that the polls were

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suggesting that the majority of the British public were in favour of the

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action, and if you look at the front pages of the newspapers, including

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the Daily Mail, they were strongly in favour then and they have changed

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their children. The point Tony Blair made today, the decision rested with

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him alone. Even if he consulted. Whatever the rights and wrongs of

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the decision that he came to, his main mission was to try to persuade

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people and issue a plea to people to say, don't say I am -- I am a liar

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and I miss lead you. It was none of those things. You might disagree

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with why I did it, and he conceded that there were many problems, and

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in specific areas, he apologised for specific problems that arose that

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could have been avoided, but the bottom line for him is: I am the

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decision-makers and I needed to make a decision. Ultimately, I would make

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the same decision again, knowing the fact that I knew at that point.

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There is an interesting hypothetical question, which is whether a

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different Labour Party Prime Minister would have made a different

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decision, faced with the same evidence. We are short on time. The

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Daily Telegraph also has Chilcot, but Pippa, just to finish off, if we

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go down to the bottom, it is the Tory leadership contest, and a

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suggestion of tactical voting ahead. An e-mail from Nick Bowles, Michael

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Gove's campaign manager, suggesting people might like to vote for

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Michael Gove in order to stop Andrea Leadsom. Michael Gove is prepared to

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take a thrashing from trees AFP gets down to the last two, and we will

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find out who those are tomorrow night. -- a thrashing from two Reza

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may -- from Theresa May. Yellow light it shows they are a

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Machiavellian bunch, the Tories. Thank you very much. We will have

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more later. Thanks to Lance and pepper. Time now for a look at the

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weather. --

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