Petition demanding that the former prime minister’s award be blocked by Queen Elizabeth II because of his role in the war in Iraq is attracting mass support.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have joined a call for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be stripped of his knighthood over his role in the Iraq war.
an online petition has attracted more than 700,000 signatures since Wednesday morning, just four days after it was drafted in response to Blair being made a knight of the Noble Order of the Garter in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s tribute.
The petition says Blair is “the least deserving person of any public honor” and asks that he be held accountable for “war crimes”.
“Tony Blair has done irreparable damage to both the UK constitution and the composition of the country’s society. He was personally responsible for the deaths of many innocent civilians and conscripts in various conflicts, “he added.
The former Labor Party leader, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, has been widely criticized in recent decades for his involvement in the United-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The invasion, which led to former President Saddam Hussein’s removal of power and subsequent execution, ushered in years of conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians when the country fell into chaos.
To justify the invasion, Blair and then-US President George W. Bush considered Hussein a global threat with weapons of mass destruction, as Washington focused on neutralizing alleged threats in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
But no such weapons were ever found.
‘Fire after reading’ Iraq war memo allegation
Late Tuesday, as the campaign to remove Blair’s chivalry accelerated, the UK’s MailOnline news website again published allegations against Blair.
The website said that in 2003 a former assistant of hiss ordered the then Minister of Defense, Geoff Hoon, to “burn” a memo written by the then Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, who said that the invasion in Iraq may be illegal.
At the time, the US and the UK had failed to secure a specific UN resolution giving them international support for the invasion.
Hoon said his secretary was told “in no uncertain terms” by Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff at the time, that the note would be destroyed after it was read, the Daily Mail reported, citing excerpts from Hoon’s recently published memoirs, See How they run.
However, this order was disregarded and the memo was rather locked in a safe at the UK’s Ministry of Defense.
Blair and Powell have previously dismissed these allegations – which first surfaced in 2015 – as false.
The MailOnline report came as a poll published by the British polling company YouGov revealed 63 per cent of Britons is opposed to Blair who is knighted.
The survey is based on responses from 2,441 Britons and suggested that most Labor voters were also against the move.
Does the British approve of Tony Blair getting a knighthood?
Approve 14% / approve 63%
Approve 21% / approve 56%
– YouGov (@YouGov) 4 January 2022
Despite increasing public pressure for Blair’s knighthood to be revoked, several leading politicians have spoken out in favor of him being honored by Queen Elizabeth II.
Current Labor leader Keir Starmer and House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, both already knighted by the monarch, made separate remarks on Tuesday to defend the former prime minister as a worthy recipient of the decoration.