Today is a day for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.
Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.
There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way.
For many members in my local party, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.
Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.
In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.
It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.
I was proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.
You can see Charles’ speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.
Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!
Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. I’m proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.
If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 – it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in.