Alex Massie

Will Chilcot Ever Reveal a New Fact?

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As far as I can tell the Chilcot Inquiry has yet to unearth anything that hasn;t been public knowledge for years. Today it's Jonathan Powell's turn to confirm Stuff We Already Knew. As Paul Waugh reports:

But perhaps more interesting is the detail he gave of the trip to Downing Street by Dick Cheney a month before in March 2002.

Little has so far been revealed about this crunch meeting, which may well have coloured Blair's actions from then on.

The Veep, the most senior hawk in the White House at the time, dropped into Number 10 ahead of a tour of Middle East allies on which he wanted to test opinion of the impact of a war on Iraq.

At the meeting - and this is the first detail of its contents from Powell - Blair set out some of the "unintended consequences" of military action.

But Powell reveals that Cheney was implacable. "He said at the end of the meeting that a coalition would be nice, but not essential."

Is this news? Hardly. Donald Rumsfeld made much the same point before the war started, when it looked as though Blair might struggle to win parliamentary approval for the use of force. And, of course, George W Bush also told Blair that he didn't want to see the controversy cost Blair his ministry and that, if this seemed likely, the US would go ahead alone and British troops' role might be confined to post-conflict operations.

So, for the umpteenth consecutive day, no new news from Chilcot...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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