‘You should be treated with contempt’ MP”s astonishing attack on SNP during Blair debate

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Dudley North MP Ian Austin launched an astonishing attack on former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who this afternoon led an opposition motion on the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the conflict.

A cross-party group of MPs called on the Commons’ to recognise Sir John Chilcot’s report, published in July, “provided substantial evidence of misleading information” presented by Mr Blair.

They also demanded a Commons’ probe into the “contrast” between Mr Blair’s public statements to MPs in 2003 and the ex-Labour prime minister’s private correspondence with former US president George W. Bush.

MPs later overwhelmingly rejected the calls for a parliamentary investigation with Labour and Conservative MPs joining forces to vote down the motion by 439 votes to 70, majority 369.

Five Labour MPs and six Conservatives were among those who voted in favour of the motion.

Mr Austin admitted Sir John’s work will “clearly never settle arguments about whether the war in Iraq was right or wrong” but insisted it should “lay to rest allegations about bad faith, lies or deceit” as he repeated some of the report’s key findings.

The Labour MP, who previously served as a parliamentary aide to Mr Blair’s successor Gordon Brown, had earlier criticised the SNP for consistently using their allotted Commons’ time to force debates on matters aimed at causing splits within his party.

He told MPs the SNP “don”t want to be held to account on their record“ as he laid out how the party had previously arranged a debate on the Trident nuclear deterrent, with a further SNP-led debate planned on House of Lords reform.

Mr Austin said: “Despite all of the problems faced by the people of Scotland who they”re sent here to represent, they haven”t got a word to say about that.”

He added: “Instead of choosing to debate issues people in Scotland worry about day in day out – education, health service, housing – they come here to score party political points.

“Choosing motion after motion to divide the Labour Party, that”s what this is what this about… and they should be treated with contempt.”

Mr Austin’s outburst was met by fellow Labour MPs shouting accusations of “gesture politics” at the SNP benches.

Having previously branded Mr Salmond a “disgrace” for failing to mention the “brutality” of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his opening remarks, Mr Austin turned on the Gordon MP as Mr Salmond stood in an attempt to intervene.

Mr Austin told Mr Salmond: “Look at him laughing, look at him laughing, as if Iraq is a subject of humour, as if it”s a joke.

“Sit down, we”ve had enough from you, sit down.”

During the debate, Cabinet Office minister Chris Skidmore said there is “no merit” in further inquiries into the Iraq War.

And shadow foreign office minister Fabian Hamilton, who voted against the 2003 invasion, said the SNP motion risked “distracting” the Commons and the committee from its “true objective” of learning the “real lessons” of the Chilcot inquiry.

He also launched a defence of Mr Blair, telling MPs he did not believe the former prime minister had acted in “bad faith” when making the case for war.