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14 Sep, 2016 10:21

LEAKED EMAIL: Brexit distracting from Chilcot’s Iraq report was ‘silver lining,’ Straw told Powell

Former UK foreign secretary and Iraq War architect Jack Straw told Bush-era statesman Colin Powell the “silver lining” of the EU referendum was that it distracted attention from the Chilcot Report, according to leaked emails.

The messages, seen by the Intercept and other outlets, take the form of an email exchange around the time of the much-delayed Iraq Inquiry publication.

In an email containing a proposed press statement sent to Powell on July 4 - two days ahead of Chilcot and 20 ahead of the Brexit vote - the former minister wrote the “only silver lining of the Brexit vote is that it will reduce medium-term attention on Chilcot — though it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable.

In response Powell assured Straw a month after Chilcot hit that it “didn’t amount to anything over here [in the US]” and that he felt it wouldn’t be long before it simply “faded away.

An evidently relieved Straw replied: “Yes, the Chilcot story has faded altogether here too. It was unpleasant on the day but almost all the focus was on Tony [Blair].

He added that there had been “some stuff about some relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq trying to get a legal action against Tony on its feet buy [sic] it’s hard to see how that could work.

Powell said he would also share Straw’s thoughts with two other Bush-era figures – former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Powell’s successor as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

In the exchange the two also discussed the controversy surrounding a second UN resolution at the time of hostilities. The issue was hotly debated in parliament leading to the resignation of then-UK Foreign Minister Robin Cook.

Powell was skeptical of Straw’s view that getting a second resolution would have stopped the war.

I can’t disagree or disagree with your judgement that a second resolution would have prevented conflict. I doubt it, but I don’t know,” said Powell.