By Jason Theodorou
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg faced growing pressure from both Tory MPs and anti-war campaigners today, following his comments during Prime Minister's Questions that the Iraq was was 'illegal'.
With the Prime Minister engaged in talks with President Obama at the White House, Mr. Clegg was left to take Prime Minister's Questions in his absence.
After a series of technical problems with his microphone and stumbling responses, Mr. Clegg engaged in a heated debate with Labour's shadow justice secretary Jack Straw over the coalition government's policies.
Mr. Clegg said: 'I'm happy to account for everything we are doing in the coalition Government, which has brought together two parties, working in the national interest to sort out the mess that you left behind... maybe [Straw] will one day - perhaps we will have to wait for his memoirs - could account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all, which is the illegal invasion of Iraq'.
Mr. Straw was Tony Blair's foreign secretary when the war began in 2003, and said during the Iraq Inquiry that the decision to go to war in Iraq had 'haunted him', and that it had been the most 'difficult decision' of his life.
He said that he supported the war only 'reluctantly', but did not take the opportunity to stop Tony Blair from involving the UK in military action.
Mr. Clegg later said that he had expressed his personal opinion, rather than the official stance of the coalition government.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that he views the issue in a 'different' way to Mr. Clegg, and the government has yet to take an official line on the conflict in anticipation of the release of the Chilcott Inquiry.
Conservatives including Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne supported the war, while the Liberal Democrats were strongly opposed under Charles Kennedy.
Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, told the Guardian: 'A public statement by a government minister in parliament as to the legal situation would be a statement that an international court would be interested in, in forming a view as to whether or not the war was lawful'.
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