Sir Tony Blair: Half a million sign petition to strip former PM of New Year honours

A petition to strip Sir Tony Blair of the knighthood given to him by the Queen in the New Year honours list has been signed by over half a million people.

Labour's longest-serving Prime Minister was appointed as a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.

It is an honour regularly bestowed on former premier and entirely within Her Majesty's gift - so not awarded on the advice of the Government.

But the move has led to a huge backlash, with scores pointing to his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq.

Angus Scott launched the petition on Change.org shortly after news broke.

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He wrote: "Tony Blair is to be knighted with the highest possible ranking in the new year honours list, Buckingham Palace has said.

"Sir Tony, who held the keys to No 10 between 1997 and 2007, will be appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.

"Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society.

"He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes.

"Tony Blair is the least deserving person of any public honour, particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen."

Frankie London, 53, was one of the first to sign the petition.

Mr London, of Southend, Essex, said: “A knighthood for that repugnant man Tony Blair, but still no knighthood for the last surviving Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson in his 100th year is a national shame.

“A knighthood for a war criminal, but not for a war hero.”

Deborah Warford, another signatory, said: "Tony Blair should be prosecuted not knighted.

"Someone like this being honoured shows how corrupt and vile the system is."

Fergus Murray said: "As long as people like Blair get honoured, this whole system dishonours us."

Military mums who lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq have also been angered by the decision.

Sir Tony Blair: Half a million sign petition to strip former PM of New Year honours

Some threatened to return Elizabeth Crosses – an honour awarded to bereaved families – as a sign of their disgust.

Sir Tony has faced sustained criticism over the Iraq conflict.

A report by Sir John Chilcot in 2016 found that the former prime minister overplayed evidence about Saddam Hussein's arsenal and found he presented the case for war based on "flawed" intelligence about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Sir Tony said at the time that he would "take the same decision".

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Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has called for all former prime ministers to be knighted in the same Order, after Sir Tony waited 14 years.

All but one of the prime ministers before Sir Tony were appointed a few years after leaving office, with Sir John Major being the latest.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, however, it should be given to all ex-PMs including David Cameron because it is “one of the toughest jobs in the world”.

“Whatever people might think, it is one of the toughest jobs in the world and I think it is respectful and it is the right thing to do, whether it is to Tony Blair or to David Cameron. They should all be offered that knighthood when they finish as prime minister,” the Chorley MP said.

“I would say if you’ve been prime minister of this country, I do believe the country should recognise the service they’ve given,” Sir Lindsay added.

“It is not about politics, it is about the position they have held in this country: It’s about the position and it’s the respect that we show to those people who’ve led this country.

“And I think it’s a fitting tribute to the job they’ve carried out.”

Commenting after the news of Sir Tony's knighthood emerged, Labour leader, Keir Starmer said: "The last Labour government delivered enduring change from the national minimum wage to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"My congratulations to Tony Blair on this recognition for his public service to our country."

Sir Tony, who left Downing Street more than 14 years ago, was one of three new appointments announced by the palace alongside Baroness Valerie Amos and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Appointments to the Garter are in the Queen’s gift and made without prime ministerial advice, and are usually announced on St George’s Day, April 23, but the monarch can do so at any time, and chose this year to coincide with the New Year’s Honours.

They are for life unless a Knight or Lady Companion offends against certain “points of reproach”.

On receiving the honour, Sir Tony said: “It is an immense honour to be appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and I am deeply grateful to Her Majesty the Queen.

"It was a great privilege to serve as Prime Minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.”

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