Tony Blair: John McTernan and Andrew Castle clash on Iraq
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Former prime minister Tony Blair is to be knighted with the highest possible ranking, Buckingham Palace has said, in an announcement that coincides with the New Year Honours List. Sir Tony, who held the keys to Number 10 between 1997 and 2007, is appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry. When discussing the Iraq war, former adviser John McTernan went on to list Sir Tony’s previous achievements.
Speaking to LBC, Mr McTernan said: “They’ve honoured Tony Blair because he was a great Prime Minister.
“I notice you make no attempt to deny the achievement of peace in Northern Ireland.”
LBC presenter Andrew Castle interjected: “You’ve had at least four minutes before I gave you the results of the Chilcot Inquiry!
“I think that’s a fair and balanced view.”
Mr McTernan continued: “You end on that little dying tone of Chilcot which is the attempt to imply an untruth.
“It was a legal war. British armed forces aren’t deployed illegally.
“They can refuse to be deployed in an illegaly war. The war was legal.”
The appointment, which is made by the Queen, has regularly been bestowed upon past prime ministers, with Sir John Major, Sir Tony’s predecessor, the last to receive the honour.
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Sir Tony, a former Labour leader, said: “It is an immense honour to be appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen.
“It was a great privilege to serve as prime minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.”
Sir Tony led New Labour to a landslide victory in 1997, winning two subsequent general elections before quitting Westminster a decade later, paving the way for his chancellor Gordon Brown to take over as prime minister.
The 68-year-old famously branded Diana, Princess of Wales, the “people’s princess” after her death and was the UK leader during Allied military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
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The former barrister became a Middle East envoy and set up his own non-for-profit group, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, after leaving politics.
Each year, Royal Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Garter gather at St George’s Chapel in Windsor for a colourful procession and ceremony.
Watched by crowds of onlookers, they walk down the hill to the chapel from the State Apartments, dressed in blue velvet mantles, red velvet hoods, black velvet hats and white ostrich plumes.
Sir Tony, who left Downing Street more than 14 years ago, is one of three new appointments announced by the palace.
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