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Motion to impeach Blair is finalised

By Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor
Published : 07 November 2004

Tony Blair is charged with "gross misconduct" over the war in Iraq in a parliamentary motion to impeach him, published today.

A cross-party group of MPs has released the text exclusively to The Independent on Sunday as the campaign to invoke the ancient procedure gathers momentum.

The motion calls for a select committee to investigate the "conduct of the PM in relation to the war in Iraq".

The committee would draw up the "articles of impeachment" and a panel of law lords would judge whether Mr Blair deliberately misled the nation. A guilty verdict would see Mr Blair arrested by the Serjeant at Arms and taken into custody by Black Rod.

Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, must rule on whether the motion can be tabled for debate on the floor of the Commons. Although Mr Blair has little chance of losing an impeachment vote, its being held would be a serious humiliation.

Douglas Hogg, the Tory former cabinet minister in charge of drafting the motion, said: "We have discussed the wording of the motion with the house authorities and we believe that it can be properly placed on the order paper."

Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru MP who began the campaign to impeach the PM, said he hoped 30 to 50 MPs would support the motion. So far 23 have signed up.

The text of the draft motion that the MPs will seek to table later this month reads:

"That a select committee of not more than 13 members be appointed to investigate and to report to the house on the conduct of the Prime Minister in relation to the war against Iraq and to consider;

"(a) the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group that in March 2003 Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had been essentially free of them since the mid-1990s;

"(b) the Prime Minister's acknowledgement that he was wrong when he asserted that Iraq was then in possession of chemical or biological weapons or was then engaged in active efforts to develop nuclear weapons or was thereby a current or serious threat to the UK national interest or that possession of WMD then enabled Iraq to inflict real damage upon the region and the stability of the world;

"(c) the opinion of the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was unlawful;

"(d) whether there exist sufficient grounds to impeach the Rt Hon Tony Blair on charges of gross misconduct in his advocacy of the case for war against Iraq and in his conduct of policy in connection with that war.

"That the committee shall within 48 days of its appointment report to this house such resolutions, articles of impeachment or other recommendations as it shall think fit."

Tony Blair will fly to Washington this week where he will urge George Bush to increase pressure on Israel to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. He will insist that justice for the Palestinians is as vital in the international war against terrorism as bringing stability to Iraq. When the Prime Minister congratulated the US President on his re-election last week, he added that revitalising the Middle East peace process is "the single most pressing political challenge in our world today". He also told Mr Bush that terrorism "will not be defeated by military might alone but also by demonstrating the strength of our common values". His statement will form the agenda for their talks when he visits Washington on Thursday and Friday, Downing Street said last night.