By Ray Fleming

ONCE a lawyer always a lawyer. If one defence doesn't work, try another on the either/or principle.
But I doubt that the tactic has ever been used with such barefaced effrontery as by Tony Blair in a recorded interview being shown on BBC One at 11am this morning.

According to advance publicity for the programme he says that he would have invaded Iraq even without the evidence of weapons of mass destruction which he used in Parliament to win support for the invasion.

He goes on to say: “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.” What seems to escape Mr Blair, however, is that the House of Commons and the country might not have thought that, say, “Saddam Hussein as a threat to the region” or “the need for regime chance for the Iraq people” was quite as weighty an argument as “the threat of weapons of mass destruction” that so many people reluctantly accepted.

The image of Mr Blair's inner circle sitting on sofas at Number Ten in February 2003 is irresistible. “OK guys,” says the prime minister, “We have a choice of three reasons for the invasion of Iraq I agreed with George a year ago.

Which sounds best. Alistair?” Is Blair using the BBC interview to test the appeal of this defence before he appears at the Chilcot Inquiry in January? That inquiry certainly needs a top lawyer to deal the former prime minister on his own terms.

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