In a more troubling development for embattled British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ruling Labour, a poll showed on November 26 that voters blame deadly terrorist attacks at home on the Iraq war and want an immediate pullout from the war-torn country.
Sixty-six per cent of English voters and 61 per cent of Scots backed a prompt pullout, according to the ICM survey.
Nearly two thirds of voters believe Blair’s successor, most likely incumbent Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, should declare an immediate withdrawal from Iraq .
Britain has 7,200 troops in southern Iraq patrolling an area around Basra, Iraq ’s second largest city. Some 126 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the Anglo-American invasion in 2003. Several UK officers and soldiers serving in Iraq have complained that British military presence in Iraq “exacerbates the security problems” and that they should get out “sometime soon.”
According to the BBC, the number of British soldiers deserting military service over Iraq has been on the rise with more than 1,000 personnel going absent without leave and failing to return since the beginning of the war.
The new opinion poll, the last backdrop of pressure over Blair’s government, came few days after the clearest government timetable yet for withdrawal from Iraq was set out. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett aid Britain would be able to hand over control of the south to Iraqi forces in the spring.
Blair admitted on November 17 that the Iraq war had been a “disaster”, drawing fire from politicians amid calls for a public inquiry into the war.