Gordon Brown says British troops will leave Iraq by July. But after six years of occupation, 178 British deaths, as well as countless Iraqi casualties, there is growing pressure for an independent inquiry into the causes, conduct and cost of war By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown lays a wreath at the Basra Airbase war memorial in southern Iraq Politicians from across the political divide will today demand an inquiry into the cost, causes and conduct of Britain's operations in Iraq as Gordon Brown returns home after announcing the final withdrawal of troops from the country by July. Opposition parties believe Mr Brown may allow the long-delayed inquiry to begin next summer but that it will not report until after the next general election, which could be as late as June 2010. Mr Brown will make a statement on Iraq to Parliament today. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) told The Independent that the cost of British operations in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been £7.836bn – the equivalent of £3.7m a day. Critics say that would be enough to fund 25,200 teachers for 10 years and to build 107 new hospitals. The final bill will increase before the pullout of the remaining 4,100 troops. Some defence experts also say the Government's figure understates the true cost of the Iraq operation. The MoD admits that it does not include payments to the families of the 178 servicemen killed or the cost of treating the injured. Some experts claim the official figure does not cover the wear and tear on military equipment, but the MoD insists that has been taken into account. Day-to-day costs such as servicemen's pay is met from the MoD's £34bn annual budget. Extra operational costs, including top-up payments for troops, are met from a special reserve fund at the Treasury, to which the MoD submits a bill twice a year. MPs claim the Iraq budget has been shrouded in secrecy....