Tony Blair looks set to keep his knighthood despite a massive public outcry - as no-one in the UK seems to know how to take it off him.

The news comes as a petition to have the former Labour prime minister stripped of his New Year honour has passed 400,000 signatures.

However, the petition is being run on the website Change.org.

If it had accrued even one-quarter of that number of signatures on the UK Parliament’s website, the Government would respond and consider it for a debate in the Commons.

A stumbling block may have appeared through even that channel though, as the Government site’s rules make clear that although “petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are almost always debated”, they “must be about something that the Government or the House of Commons is directly responsible for”.

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It has emerged that there is confusion about who exactly would be tasked with reviewing Blair’s knighthood, with no-one wanting to claim responsibility.

The ordinary process for removing a knighthood begins when someone contacts the Cabinet Office’s dedicated email address to make a complaint.

The National Wales: Documents released last week revealed that Blair (left, with former Home Secretary Jack Straw) blocked proposals for a race equality strategy following the racist killing of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 (Picture source: PA Wire)Documents released last week revealed that Blair (left, with former Home Secretary Jack Straw) blocked proposals for a race equality strategy following the racist killing of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 (Picture source: PA Wire)

The case for stripping someone’s honour, sent to that address, will be considered by the Forfeiture Committee.

The committee, which is chaired by the permanent secretary to the Treasury Sir Tom Scholar, will consider each case individually and meet as required, according to the UK Government’s website.

The committee’s recommendations should then be passed to the monarch through the prime minister, with action being taken at that stage.

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However, the Cabinet Office insisted on multiple occasions that it had no power to consider removing the knighthood.

A spokesperson said that Blair had been appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, by the Queen and not the Government.

As such, the Cabinet Office said that any inquiry about a removal of Blair’s honour should go to Buckingham Palace. It also declined to reveal if any complaints had been received.

The National Wales: The Cabinet Office claims enquiries about removing knighthoods should be directed to Buckingham Palace - which the Palace denies. (Picture source: Jimmy Harris)The Cabinet Office claims enquiries about removing knighthoods should be directed to Buckingham Palace - which the Palace denies. (Picture source: Jimmy Harris)

However, Buckingham Palace said that the process to remove a knighthood had “nothing to do with” them. A spokesperson said it was “certainly a matter for the Government”.

In turn, the Cabinet Office insisted that the palace was “in the wrong about that”. A spokesperson said that UK Government policy officers had insisted Buckingham Palace was in control of any review of the awarding of the honour.

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Asked if that were the case and what the procedure might be, Buckingham Palace declined to comment further.

Blair's knighthood has been the focus of much debate after it was announced late on New Year's Eve. 

Former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said that Blair should face "charges for war crimes."

 

However, Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle said that giving Blair the honour was the "respectful and ... the right thing to do".

Appointments to the Garter are in the Queen’s gift and are typically announced on St George’s Day in April. However, the monarch can pick any other point to do so.

The Garter recognises outstanding public service and achievement and dates back to the reign of Edward III in 1348.

This article originally appeared in our sister publication, The National Scotland.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Wilks.

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