Iraq plans 'ramped up after Blair-Bush meeting'

British defence chiefs “ramped up” planning for possible involvement in a US invasion of Iraq after a key meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush, the inquiry into the war heard today.

The head of the Armed Forces at the time insisted there was “absolutely no contingency planning” for military action in Iraq in 2001.

But Admiral Boyce said this changed after the then British Prime Minister held talks with the US President at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002 - although he stressed that only a small group of people were involved in the planning.

He told the inquiry: “We started ramping up our thinking on the whole subject, of what we could provide if we were asked.”

This ranged from small-scale support using British troops already in the Middle East – largely Royal Navy and special forces – to a larger contribution.

Boyce said: “That thinking started in May, but again it was confined to a very small group of people and it was very much in London, in the MoD (Ministry of Defence).

“It didn’t actually go outside into any of the outposts, if you like, of the MoD.”

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