‘Let me know if there’s anything you want me to do’ says Brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has today promised the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war that he’ll “be around” should they need “anything doing”.

Mr. Brown is said to be reluctant to face the inquiry due to the potential damage it could cause to Labour’s upcoming election campaign, although the Prime Minister insists this is “not the case” and that he’d be “more than happy to help”.

Although the inquiry has previously said it would not call on Mr. Brown until after the General Election, John Chilcot – the civil servant in charge of the inquiry – is said to be “exasperated” at the Prime Minister’s general lack of commitment and his tardiness in replying to email messages sent over the last few weeks.

In response to Mr. Chilcot’s most recent email, the Prime Minister eventually wrote a brief reply: “Work’s been a nightmare, plus the broadband’s been playing up. More than happy with the inquiry idea – let me know if there’s anything you want me to do, although it looks like you’ve got everything in hand. Thanks, G.”

Political correspondent Tim Peters says of the email: “It’s a classic brush-off from the PM. It’s quite clear he doesn’t want to have anything to do with this, so he’s used that classic line ‘let me know if there’s anything you want me to do’ – it’s clever, because on the surface the sentiment initially appears to be one of genuine concern. But if you read it through a couple more times it actually says very little and shows that he’s not on board with the idea whatsoever. It’s sort of a positive negative. It’s almost like he sidling his way out of the room as he says it – he has no intention of turning up to this inquiry if he can help it, but he wants to appear enthusiastic in order to get Chilcot off his back. From what we know it hasn’t worked and word has it that Chilcot has almost given up on him and may end up gathering evidence elsewhere.”

It was Mr. Brown himself set up the Iraq inquiry last year in order to learn lessons from the conflict following British withdrawal, and although initially “excited” over the idea, his enthusiasm has been said to have cooled somewhat upon realising the amount of work it would require from him – particularly before a General Election.

“It’s just a matter of etiquette,” says Peters, “Mr. Brown didn’t want come across as rude, hence his friendly-yet-noncommittal email to Mr. Chilcot. However, it could easily backfire.  That line could yet come back to bite him, because the danger is that Chilcot could take him at his word and actually bring forward his appearance before the inquiry and end up scuppering the Prime Minister’s plans for the forthcoming election.”

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