Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has shared her views on Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the Iraq war, saying ‘it’s immediately clear that this is not a whitewash’.
She said: “We are all still digesting Sir John Chilcot’s report into the Iraq war and what it means for how these momentous decisions are taken. What is immediately clear, is this is not a ‘whitewash’.
“Sir John’s inquiry certainly took longer than I would have liked, which added to the pain of so many families who lost loved ones in the conflict, but the result is a thorough and objective assessment of all the evidence.
“The report is damning of the lack of scrutiny of the intelligence provided and the way in which was used to justify immediate military intervention without waiting for a second UN resolution.
“Foremost in my mind are the families of the 179 British service personnel and 23 civilians who lost their lives in this grotesque failure of Government and foreign policy. Chilcot is clear that they were not properly equipped, and that there was not adequate planning in place for the type of conditions personnel would encounter in theatre.
“There are no excuses for sending our men and women into battle and not equipping them properly for the job in hand. I wonder if the families who lost loved ones, and those who survived but carry scars, both mental and physical, can find a sense of closure as a result of this report. They have been living with this burden every day for over a decade.
“We cannot turn back time and prevent their suffering, but we can learn the lessons from the past, the first of which must be that war should always be the last possible resort, once all other peaceful solutions to conflict have been thoroughly exhausted.
“We also need to learn from how the decisions were taken. There has already been a great deal of change, and the days of ‘sofa Government’ have given way to a collaborative approach.
“The establishment of the National Security Council ensures that intelligence that forms decisions of such magnitude are scrutinised thoroughly, and that our security services are held to greater account. The NSC ensures proper co-ordinated decision-making across the whole of government, including those responsible for our domestic security.
“Finally, our Armed Forces are the best in the world, and our nation must never again send them into conflict without the proper equipment. I join the Prime Minister in condemning that situation and will always do what I can to ensure our personnel have all they need to do the job we ask of them.
“The introduction of the Armed Forces Covenant as the basis by which we, as a nation, pledge to ensure our personnel, veterans and their families, face no disadvantage for their service is a momentous step forward. It provides a stronger framework both for serving personnel and their families and the opportunity to build on measures already in place.
“As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Armed Forces Covenant, I am witnessing first-hand what incredible work is already taking place, and the scope for improvements in the future.”