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John Major: Iraq papers decision 'embarrassing' for Blair

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has said the decision to withhold some of the correspondence about the Iraq war will be "very embarrassing" for Tony Blair.

Sir John Major told Radio 4's Today programme: “I think it is a pity the papers are going to be withheld for several reasons. Firstly, they will leave suspicions unresolved and those suspicions will fester and maybe worsen."

He also argued that the ruling ran counter to Mr Blair's actions to make government more transparent.

"And secondly, in many ways I think withholding them is going to be very embarrassing for Mr Blair, not least of course because he brought in the Freedom of Information Act into law when he was in government."

Mother of Iraq soldier 'sickened' by Chilcot decision

The mother of a 19-year-old soldier killed in Iraq has said she is "sickened" by the decision to only partially publish the correspondence between Tony Blair and George Bush in the lead-up to the war.

The Chilcot Inquiry, which is looking into the decision to go to war, has reached a deal to publish the "gists" of the two leaders' communications.

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in 2004, said: "I feel sickened...How will the families get to know the truth? We are just shoved aside. We just feel, what's the point?"

She also claimed the former Prime Minister would "walk away" from the investigation "with a smile on his face".


Iraq inquiry 'to be published as soon possible'

The government says it is "doing everything it can" to ensure the Chilcot Inquiry is able to publish its long-awaited report into the Iraq report quickly, after a deal was finally reached to disclose the "gists" of conversations between George W Bush and Tony Blair.

Resolving this issue has taken longer than originally hoped but these are sensitive issues [...]

The Government and the Inquiry are working to ensure the Inquiry's report is published as soon as possible and the Government is doing everything it can to facilitate that.

– Cabinet Office spokesperson

'Gists' of Bush and Blair Iraq talks to be disclosed

More than 130 records of conversations between Blair and Bush will be disclosed. Credit: Olivier Douliery/ABACA/Press Association Images

An agreement has been reached over disclosing sensitive documents detailing discussions between Tony Blair and George Bush over Iraq.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Government's most senior civil servant, who was principal private secretary to Mr Blair in 10 Downing Street in the run-up to the war, has agreed the principles of handing over the "gists and quotes" of correspondence between the two former leaders.

Under review will be 25 notes from Mr Blair to Mr Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between the former Prime Minister and then US president.

In a letter to Sir Jeremy, Sir John Chilcot, the head of the Iraq inquiry, said "the use of direct quotation from the documents should be the minimum necessary".

Blair advises Miliband to 'stay firm' and not follow UKIP

Former prime minister Tony Blair said he would advise Ed Miliband to "stay firm" following Labour's performance at the local and European elections.

Mr Blair told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is not as if yielding to that pressure from UKIP has actually done the Conservative Party any good at the present time.

Former prime minister Tony Blair advised Ed Miliband to 'stay firm'. Credit: Dennis Van Tine / ABACAUSA.COM

"For the Labour Party, if it decides to follow UKIP either on its anti-Europe platform or, even worse frankly, on its anti-immigration platform, then all that will happen is that it will confuse its own supporters and it won't actually draw any greater support."

Asked about the Lib Dems he said, "The problem they have is very simple - they fought the 2010 election on a platform significantly to the left of Labour and then ended up in a Conservative Government with a platform significantly to the right of Labour ... there's not really a cure for that."


Blair: Economy is crucial in Middle East peace process

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is now a special envoy in the Middle East, said economy is vital in the peace process.

"The economic side, which is absolutely vital because if we don't build the Palestinian economy up at the same time as you are pursuing the political negotiation then a state for the Palestinians seems a dream and not a reality," Mr Blair said.

PM meets Blair in Jerusalem to discuss Middle East

David Cameron met the Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair at the British consulate in Jerusalem.

David Cameron and Tony Blair Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The two spoke for 20 minutes, discussing the peace process.

Asked whether missile attacks could knock the plan off track, Mr Blair said: "The strikes from Gaza just underline and illustrate the depth of the problem.

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