Monday 31 March 2003

Ministers Ordered to Knife Cook

Tony Blair yesterday ordered senior ministers to nail war rebel Robin Cook.

The PM is furious at Mr Cook's latest attack on the conflict, in which he called for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

In an article for our sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, the ex-Foreign Secretary said: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war.

"I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."

Later, Mr Cook appeared to water down his comments, claiming in a Radio 4 interview that he wanted Britain to "see the job through".

He added: "I am not in favour of abandoning the battlefield and that is not my position.

"There can be no question at this stage of letting Saddam off the hook."

But he added Mr Blair should recognise what the consequences of a siege of Baghdad would be.

He warned of a "very serious risk of humanitarian tragedy".

Mr Cook's outspoken remarks, particularly those in the Sunday Mirror, stunned Downing Street and triggered a brutal response.

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