After two weeks of tumultuous events in Westminster and British politics as a whole, things seemed to be set on a well-defined course. Writing this column, as I usually do, on a Sunday evening or Monday morning I intended to move away from the various issues surrounding Brexit, leadership elections and challenges, and focus on the Chilcott report which was published last week.
However, mid-morning on Monday, when Andrea Leadsom announced that she was withdrawing from the race to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party and thus Prime Minister, events then moved very quickly, as Theresa May was duly made leader of the Conservative Party and also our new Prime Minister. As readers will know from my column last week, I was supporting Theresa so I was pleased at the result.
I believe that Theresa’s experience will be crucial and, whilst I am an admirer of Andrea’s abilities, I feel that Theresa is the safe pair of hands that the country needs at this time. There has been talk of Brexit, with people like myself who voted to leave the EU backing Theresa who supported remaining, but as she herself said on the steps of the Houses of Parliament, “Brexit means Brexit”. This however is not solely about Brexit. No matter what view I and colleagues took prior to the 23rd June, it is now about the whole issue of governing the country, giving the stability we need as we move forward. I am convinced that Theresa will bring that to the role of Prime Minister and to the country as a whole.
Such were the magnitude of events last week, the much awaited Chilcott report on the Iraq war was quickly moved off the front pages. The delay in the publishing of this report was too long; last Wednesday was naturally a difficult day for the families of those who lost loved ones and our first thoughts must be with them. The Iraq War - both the lead up to it and the aftermath - were hugely important events in our recent history. I wasn’t a Member of Parliament at the time, but I well remember the controversy around the decision to invade Iraq. That debate continues and, whilst Tony Blair still advocates it was the right thing to do, Lord Prescott has cast doubts on its legality.
The Chilcot Report is a huge document which does fully investigate the issue and is critical of various aspects of the decision. The House is debating it this week and doubtless MPs who were around will have much to say on the subject, but whilst other events have occupied the media we should not forget the sacrifice made by many as a result of that decision.