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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > August 2016 > Chilcot’s tough lesson

Chilcot’s tough lesson

The Iraq Inquiry report is a portrait of a country with only one ally left

There was a time in 10 Downing Street when it was believed that duplicity, deceit and military folly could all be covered up by throwing the evidence into the fireplace. The secret agreement signed in the Paris suburb of Sèvres in 1956 between Britain, France and Israel, that laid the plans for an invasion of Egypt which would allow Britain to regain control of the Suez Canal, was ordered to be destroyed by Prime Minister Anthony Eden. The document was seen as a “smoking gun” that would have exposed the lie Eden told in the House of Commons that he had “no foreknowledge” of Israel’s plans to invade the canal zone.

The 12 volumes of the Chilcot report on the Iraq war would have generated sub stantial heat if they had been tossed into a Whitehall furnace. But like Eden, who naively ordered the Sèvres Protocol to be burned by his cabinet secretary, Norman Brook, the individuals scrutinised in the mannered hit-job delivered by Chilcot will need far more than a bonfire to cleanse their damaged reputations.

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In Prospect’s August issue: Rachel Sylvester argues that the EU referendum has started a re-alignment of British politics while Roger Scruton and Jay Elwes say that it has thrown Britain into a bout of self-examination with the fundamental question of who we are as a nation at its centre. In addition, Peter Mandelson says without reform the EU could fall victim to a populist uprising. Also in this issue: Philip Ball explores quantum entanglement, George Magnus looks at the political situation in Brazil ahead of the Olympics and Adam Mars-Jones unpicks the work of Steven Spielberg. James Cusick looks at the impact of the Chilcot report and Kathy Lette explains what the world would be like if she was in charge.