Prime Minister Gordon Brown has insisted that he would be “happy” to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry “as long as he isn’t doing anything.”
The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to speak at the hearings before this year’s General Election, but has emphasised that because he is extremely popular, has loads of friends and has many big many and important things he has to do, it is becoming extremely difficult to find the time.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong,” the Prime Minister told reporters outside Downing Street this morning. “I’d LOVE to go and give evidence to the inquiry -particularly before the General Election. Yes, I think I’d really enjoy that.
“Thing is, I’ve left my diary in my office at Westminster and what with being so bloody popular and important, I couldn’t possibly commit to attending without consulting it. What a drag.”
Mr Brown has also told the House of Commons that he has written to the panel’s chair, Sir John Chilcot, to make it clear he would be “happy to give evidence at any time. As long as they check with me first.”
Sir John said: “We received a letter scrawled in a child’s hand-writing, written in crayon and littered with spelling mistakes, claiming to be from the Prime Minister.
“Naturally, we assumed that it was a joke, as he was asking to be excused from giving evidence because he ‘hadn’t’ been well recently.’ He did, however, draw a very pretty picture of him, his family, his house, and the sun shining down on them, in crayon. Marvellous.”
Nonetheless, Mr Brown has insisted that the timing of his appearance will be chosen by the panel, without any Government interference.
“I will take any advice he (Sir John) gives me about when he wants me to appear,” he told Prime Minister’s Questions.
“That said, I have made it clear that I go to pilates twice a week, the pub on Wednesdays with the lads, and then there’s the darts team – not to mention the whole running the country lark. This isn’t as easy as it looks, you know.”
However, when pressed by shadow foreign secretary William Hague to give a final, clear-cut day for attending the inquiry, the Prime Minister finally announced: “Okay, okay. You can pencil me in for the Wednesday after next. Or possibly the one after that. Although it does depend to a large extent on whether or not I’m having my hair cut.”