An online petition calling to remove Tony Blair’s knighthood has hit 230,000 signatures in just 48 hours after the New Year Honours were released. The former prime minister has been appointed Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The honour is bestowed by the Queen and it is the oldest and most senior type in the British system. There are 24 spaces within the role and 21 are currently filled, one recently completed by the first black person to hold the honour, Baroness Amos.
Critics have responded angrily to the news of Tony Blair’s knighthood. A Change.org petition claims the ex-PM committed “war crimes” and describes him as the “least deserving person of any public honour”. Despite garnering huge popularity while leader of the Labour party, Sir Tony’s reputation has been tarnished in the eyes of many by the decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Chilcot Inquiry in 2016 found the Iraq mission began on the basis of intelligence which was ‘presented with a certainty that was not justified’ and before diplomatic options had been exhausted. Tony Blair’s knighthood was described as an “immense honour” by the former PM, as he thanked “all those who served alongside me in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country”.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the BBC it should be given to all ex-PMs including David Cameron because it is “one of the toughest jobs in the world”.
He said: “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. I would say if you’ve been prime minister of this country, I do believe the country should recognise the service they’ve given. 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.”
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