Tony Blair launched a secret bid to save Colonel Gaddafi shortly before the Libyan dictator was ousted, a new book claims.
A biography of British Prime Minister David Cameron by historian Sir Anthony Seldon alleges that Blair called up Downing Street during the 2011 campaign to say he had been contacted by a “key individual close to Gaddafi” and that they wanted to “cut a deal”.
The claim has sparked fury among MPs who have now called for Blair to explain himself to a parliamentary inquiry, The Times reports.
Sir Anthony is a respected and renowned prime ministerial biographer, and is likely to have access to some of the most reliable sources in government to back up his claims.
Daniel Kawczynski, who sits on parliament’s foreign affairs committee, called Mr Blair’s plan “sordid”. “I think it is very irresponsible for Mr Blair to even have suggested it,” he said.
Nadhim Zahawi, a fellow Conservative who also sits on the committee, added: “If this is true then we need to better understand what happened.”
The committee is conducting an inquiry into the handling of the 2011 Libyan war that ultimately saw Gaddafi toppled and killed.
“With these revelations, we should be pushing for Blair to come and explain as part of the inquiry,” Zahawi said.
The book, Cameron at 10, also includes further revelations likely to embarrass the government, such as the claim that Sir John Sawers, who was head of MI6, said intervention in Libya would not be in Britain’s “national interest”.
Lord Richards of Hertsmonceaux, who was chief of the defence staff, also accused David Cameron of conducting a “half-baked” campaign in Libya, saying he was more interested in pursuing a “Notting Hill liberal agenda” than in true “statecraft”, the book claims.
Perhaps even more embarrassing for the Prime Minister is the revelation that US President Obama refused to take his calls for three days before a planned missile strike against Syria, leaving him in the dark before his humiliating defeat in parliamentary vote on intervention.
Tony Blair faced strong criticism while he was Prime Minister for brokering a deal with Gaddafi in 2004 in which the Libyan leader vowed to surrender weapons of mass destruction in exchange for help exploiting his country’s oil resources.
Sir Vincent Fean, British ambassador to Libya from 2006-10, told The Times that Gaddafi’s fate after any deal would still have been uncertain: “I don’t think he was ever in the market for a dignified retirement.”