Tony Blair rejected the concerns of his cabinet in pushing for the US-backed invasion of Iraq, according to a new 'tell-almost-all' by Alastair Campbell, the former prime minister's media adviser for almost ten years.
Campbell resigned in August 2003 shortly after the suicide of British MoD scientist David Kelly, who killed himself after being implicated as a BBC's journalist's source for a story that the UK government was exaggerating its intelligence on Iraq's WMD program.
Despite his closest advisers' resistance to the planned invasion, Campbell believes Blair never had any doubts he was choosing the correct course of action, or else kept them well hidden.
The release of Campbell's diary Monday has sparked a firestorm of coverage in the British media, providing endless fodder for revelations about the past ten years of British politics, including insight into Blair's relationship with Princess Diana, his long-speculated political compact with current PM Gordon Brown, and the role of religion in his decision-making.
But the passages generating the most discussion cover Campbell particularly privileged view of the inner-workings of the British government, and of Blair's contacts with President Bush, in the lead-up to the war.
The following key quotes appear in The Blair Years: Extracts From the Diaries of Alastair Campbell, what one of the largest British bookstore chains is calling "the fastest selling political book in living memory." The book is to be released in the US on July 31. 7 September 2002, on persuading President Bush to go to the UN over Iraq: "As we left Bush joked to me, 'I suppose you can tell the story of how Tony flew in and pulled the crazy unilateralist back from the brink.'"
On 28 February 2003, after just 5% of people questioned in Spain back the war: "(Blair) said to (Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria) Aznar that 4% was roughly the number you could get in a poll for people who believed Elvis was alive, so he had a struggle."
On 17 March 2003, the eve of the House of Commons vote on Iraq: "JP (John Prescott), John Reid and one or two other (cabinet ministers) looked physically sick. (John Reid) said... we will be judged by the Iraq that replaces Saddam."
On the day of the Iraq vote, Mr Campbell writes: "(Blair's) speech in the house was one of his best.
"Very serious, full of real argument, confronting the points of difficulty and we felt it moving our way.
"All of us I think had had pretty severe moments of doubt, but he hadn't really, or if he had he'd hidden them even from us.
"Now there was no going back at all."
Shortly before the Commons debate, Mr Campbell recalls President Bush promising: "If you win the vote in Parliament, I'll kiss your ass."