Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw said Thursday that he could have stopped Britain joining the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and backing it had been the "most difficult decision" of his life.
Straw, now Justice Secretary, said there would have been no backing in the cabinet or the parliament for the invasion if he had withheld his "critical" support from then prime minister Tony Blair.
In a lengthy submission to the inquiry, Straw described his decision to back military action in March 2003 as "the most difficult I have ever faced in my life."
The question of whether to back US-led military action had posed a "moral as well as political dilemma" but he had nonetheless "never backed away" from his choice and the consequences that followed from it.
Straw, an erstwhile radical student leader who started his early political life on the leftwing of the Labour Party, is the first heavyweight minister of the Blair era to give evidence to the inquiry.
"I was fully aware that my support for military action was critical. If I had refused that, the UK’s participation in the military action would not in practice have been possible," his written submission released at Thursday’s hearing said.