Dick Cheney ‘personally lobbied’ Tory MPs for Blair

By Ian Dunt

Conservative MPs were personally lobbied by Dick Cheney on Tony Blair's behalf in the run-up to the Iraq war, he has revealed.

The news comes in the former US vice-president's memoirs, My Time, in which he heaps praise on Mr Blair as one of America's closest allies and says his speeches were some of the "eloquent" he had ever heard.

"I began my trip with a stop in London to visit one of America's closest and best allies in the war on terror, British prime minister Tony Blair," Mr Cheney writes.

"I have tremendous respect for prime minister Blair. He is a Labour party liberal and I am a conservative Republican, and we didn't always agree on strategy or tactics. But America had no greater ally during our time in office.

"His speeches about the war were some of the most eloquent I've been privileged to hear."

Mr Cheney, whose secretive disposition and neo-con credentials made him a hate figure on the left, claimed he played a role in tipping the balance in the run-up to the Commons vote authorising war in 2003.

"At the request of the British, I had called a number of the Tories, including Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader," Mr Cheney writes.

"He was, on this issue, a rock of support for Blair."

The vote clearly obsessed the White House at the time, with George Bush's memoirs noting that he had never expected to be paying so much attention to a Commons debate.

Mr Cheney's memoirs do contain some mild criticism of Mr Blair however, with the former vice-president saying he questioned Mr Blair's belief that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fuelling terrorism.

He also rejected Mr Blair's push for a second UN resolution, saying it would make the US look "hesitant and uncertain". In the end, the resolution could not be secured.