Gummer backs Blair impeachment

By Graham DinesPolitical EditorSUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer, who was one of a handful of Tories to vote against the war in Iraq, has joined calls for the Prime Minister to be impeached for misleading Parliament over Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer, who was one of a handful of Tories to vote against the war in Iraq, has joined calls for the Prime Minister to be impeached for misleading Parliament over Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The former Conservative Party chairman who served in John Major's government as Environment Secretary, Mr Gummer is one of 23 MPs to sign a motion calling for a special Commons committee to be set up to investigate Mr Blair's actions in the run-up to war and decide if there are grounds to impeach him for "gross misconduct."


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It is the first attempt to impeach a British Prime Minister for almost 200 years and is backed by authors Frederick Forsyth and Iain Banks, actors Susan Wooldridge, Andy de la Tour and Corin Redgrave and musician Brian Eno.

Mr Gummer said last night: "This is a question trying to regain parliamentary control. I believe Parliament would not have backed the decision to go to war if we had been told the truth.

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"Everyone believed at the time of the vote that the Prime Minister knew things he could not tell us. But in fact he told us things he did not know.

"These included certainty over weapons of mass destruction and certainty that Britain was at risk of threat at 45 minutes notice."

The impeachment motion appeared on the Commons order paper yesterday, and one of its tablers, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond, said he was hopeful Speaker Michael Martin would allow time for a debate on the floor of the House.

"This is no gimmick," said Mr Salmond. "No Speaker in history has turned down a motion on impeachment for debate.

"My estimation is that, given there are 23 names on the order paper, it will depend entirely on the breadth and substance of support.

"The Speaker is an extremely fair man and I have got every confidence in his ability to judge that."

Although no Labour MPs are among the signatories, it has the support of Tories Mr Gummer, Douglas Hogg and Boris Johnson, Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd, the Lib Dems' ex-Labour defector Paul Marsden and Respect MP George Galloway, who was thrown out of Labour for his comments on Iraq.

Calling on other MPs to add their names, Mr Salmond said: "The motion is now on the order paper. The flag is in the ground. We will see who rallies to that flag."

At a Westminster news conference, Corin Redgrave, who will this weekend launch the Progress and Peace Party to fight the General Election on an anti-war platform, said: "Tony Blair must be held accountable for lying to Parliament and to the people about the reasons for the Iraq war."

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