Tony Blair may have lost the crucial Commons vote on the Iraq War if he had admitted at the time he wanted to depose Saddam Hussein regardless of whether he had weapons of mass destruction, a senior minister has acknowledged.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth — who was deputy chief whip at the time of the vote in March 2003 — said it was impossible to know what would have happened if the argument for military action had been put in a different way.
His comments came after Mr Blair said he believed it still would have been right to take military action even if it had been known at the time Saddam did not have WMD, although a different justification would have had to be found. Mr Ainsworth said that he did not know what impact that would have had on the Commons vote on March 18.
“I don't know what the situation would have been if those arguments had been put differently. That is a parallel universe that didn't exist,” he told the BBC1 Politics Show.
“I supported the war in Iraq based on the arguments that were put at the time and a big part of those arguments was — and I firmly believed that they existed — was the existence of WMD at that time.”