Writing to the Fabian Society, Brown said there was a "need to learn all possible lessons". According to The Times, this step is a departure from the views held by his predecessor Tony Blair, who had ruled out an independent inquiry. Since succeeding Blair in June last year, Brown has stopped short of calling outright for an inquiry. Last September he said the time would come to discuss whether one should be held.
His letter to Sunder Katwala, the Fabian Society's general secretary, suggests he has accepted that one should be conducted.
In the letter, which has been obtained by The Independent, Mr Brown writes: "There is a need to learn all possible lessons from the military action in Iraq and its aftermath. There will come a time when it is appropriate to hold an inquiry. But while the whole effort of the Government and the armed forces is directed towards supporting the people and Government of Iraq as they forge a future based on reconciliation, democracy, prosperity and security, we believe that is not now."
The opposition, however, feels that the fifth anniversary of the war is the right time for a full inquiry, and that clarity was needed on the future for Britain's deployment in Iraq. Others have called for an early and full withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, and to recast British foreign policy in Britain's interests, not those of Washington.