Ex-PM Blair says US-UK relationship would have ‘suffered’ if Britain abandoned Iraq invasion

The relationship between the US and UK would have suffered if Britain had not fully engaged with the invasion of Iraq, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.

In a new radio series looking back on the invasion of the Middle Eastern country in 2003, Blair spoke about Britain’s importance to the US in the lead-up to the war.

George W. Bush had told Blair that the UK did not need to the participate in the early stages of the assault on Iraq out of fear that his ally would lose a vote in Parliament on the night before the war, but Blair persisted with the invasion, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The former Labour prime minister said he viewed confronting Saddam Hussein as a matter of principle and was “sure that our alliance depended on us doing this together.”

Retired CIA operations officer and chief of Iraq operations Luis Rueda was also interviewed for the series and admitted that “we were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction.

“But I got to tell you, my personal belief, we would have invaded Iraq if Saddam Hussein had a rubber band, a paperclip, and somebody would have said, ‘Oh, he’s going to put your eye out. Let’s take him out’,” Rueda said.

Blair also said the UK’s relationship with the US has deteriorated since he was prime minister.

“When I was prime minister, there was no doubt either under President Clinton or President Bush, who the American president picked up the phone to first.

“It was the British prime minister … today we’re out of Europe and would Joe Biden pick up the phone to Rishi Sunak first? I’m not sure,” he said.