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  • Will Tony Blair Be Impeached?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on August 27th, 2004 (All posts by )

    According to David Hencke, writing for the Guardian:

    MPs are planning to impeach Tony Blair for “high crimes and misdemeanours” in taking Britain to war against Iraq, reviving an ancient practice last used against Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago.

    Eleven MPs led by Adam Price, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, are to table a motion when parliament returns that will force the prime minister to appear before the Commons to defend his record in the run-up to the war.

    Nine of the MPs are Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, including the party leaders, Elfyn Llwyd, and Alex Salmond, and two are Conservative frontbenchers, Boris Johnson, MP for Henley and editor of the Spectator, and Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley.

    A number of Labour backbenchers are considering whether to back the motion, though it could mean expulsion from the party.

    The MPs’ decision follows the commissioning of a 100-page report which lays out the case for impeaching Mr Blair and the precedents for action, including arguments laid down in Erskine May, the parliamentary bible, on impeachments dating back to medieval times.

    The authors are Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and Dan Plesch, honorary fellow of Birkbeck College, London.

    Under the ancient right, which has never been repealed, it takes only one MP to move a motion and the Speaker has to grant a debate on the impeachment. This means, at the least, Mr Blair will have to face a fresh debate on his personal handling of the war and there will have to be a vote in parliament on whether to institute impeachment proceedings.

    If that weren’t bad enough, Cherie Booth’s legal firm, Matrix, has been selected to draw up the impeachment document. Cherie Booth is the Prime Minister’s wife.

    Maybe she thinks he’s spending too much time at the office.

    However, according to the BBC News, this procedure probably won’t make it to a vote:

    Labour MP and former minister Keith Vaz told Newsnight: “This is a silly story for the end of the silly season.”

    Mr Vaz said the evidence in the academics report was thin and questions over the Iraq war had been raised numerous times in Parliament, as well as in a string of inquiries.

    “This matter has been put before the nation day after day over the last few years,” said Mr Vaz. “All these reports have exonerated the government and it’s time to move on.”

    Donald Anderson, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, called the impeachment call a “political stunt” and a “no-hoper in legal terms”.

    I can’t believe it was coincidental that Matrix was chosen to draw up the impeachment. I suspect they were picked to maximize political embarrassment, maximize publicity and possibly to create dissension between the PM and his wife. Had they refused, no doubt there would have been accusations of political interference. The impeachment papers are proceeding.


    6 Responses to “Will Tony Blair Be Impeached?”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Do they still cut off the heads of the impeached officers?

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Did they ever?

      I beleive they were the fist European country to execute a king.

    3. Lex Says:

      Iain Murray is covering this here and here and here. Check him out.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Thanks Lex.

    5. Brian Swisher Says:

      Dinefwr…Llwyd…those Welsh need to buy some more vowels…

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I read Ian’s blog and his links. The answer is that in England, impeachment is the plenary criminal jurisdiction of parliament over peers and royal officers. The appropriate criminal punishment could be admisistered, but I guess the death penalty has been abolished in England.