Blair’s capitulation

Oliver Kamm on the government’s craven actions over the BAE fraud enquiry:

Our overriding foreign policy goal is the defeat of aggressive terrorism. So pursuing an inquiry into corruption in an arms deal worth billions of pounds would risk disrupting a relationship with Saudi Arabia crucial to achieving those goals. Mr Blair placed emphasis on the national interest in vague terms so we have no idea what the interests are, because he did not say. The tacit assumption must be that the Saudis might withhold intelligence co-operation, and withdraw from the arms deal. Our security interests would suffer; so would British commercial interests.

This is not only the best defence but also the only conceivable one for a decision taken directly by the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, it is pitiful. The lamentable closure of the SFO inquiry encapsulates the method and reasoning of the banana republic. It jettisons the central principle of democratic government. The SFO said this week that: “It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest.” To say that this is illiberal scarcely covers it. It is the lowest point in Mr Blair’s Government, and will be a defining one. It gives cynicism a bad name.

John Naughton and Simon Dickson also comment on the story