GORDON Brown will report to the House of Commons today on the agreement he reached in Baghdad yesterday for the end of the British mission In Iraq on 31 May 2009 and the withdrawal of all 4'100 British troops by the end of July - except for about 300 who will remain on a training assignment. In Baghdad he praised the troops for a job well done and will doubtless repeat this praise today and get support for it from the opposition benches in the Commons. The truth, of course, is that the British role in Basra was questionable from the start and ended in far from satisfactory way as the Iraq army with US support intervened to pacify an unruly city. The claim that the UK is leaving because it has finished the job is put in serious doubt by the fact that US forces will move into Basra airport to replace the British. There is apparently still a job to be done. David Cameron will have an opportunity today to press the prime minister for a full inquiry into the origins, conduct and follow-up of the Iraq war.
Gordon Brown has consistently said that no inquiry should take place until British troops are out of Iraq. It is to be hoped that he will not use the 300 who will remain after July as an excuse to defer an inquiry still further. He should today agree in principle to set up an inquiry beginning in September.
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