GIVING Tony Blair a knighthood is "the right thing to do", the Labour Speaker of the House of Commons says.

There's been a fierce backlash against the former prime minister's inclusion in the New Year Honours list.

Parents of military personnel killed after Blair ordered the deployment of UK troops in the US-led invasion of Iraq are amongst those to hit out at the decision to appoint him a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, which is the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry.

Made by the Queen, the designation has been given to ex-PMs, with John Major the last to receive it.

A petition on the platform calling on Blair to be stripped of the honour is nearing 200,000 signatures. However, more than one such petition exists, such is the scale of the backlash.

But speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Hoyle defended the knighthood, saying all former prime ministers should get it.

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He stated: "Whatever people might think, it is one of the toughest jobs in the world and I think it is respectful and it is the right thing to do, whether it is to Tony Blair or to David Cameron. They should all be offered that knighthood when they finish as prime minister.

"I would say if you've been prime minister of this country, I do believe the country should recognise the service they've given.

"It is not about politics, it is about the position they have held in this country. It's about the position and it's the respect that we show to those people who've led this country.

"And I think it's a fitting tribute to the job they've carried out."

Blair held office from 1997 to 2007. He was preceded by Major and followed by Gordon Brown.

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.

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Blair has described it as an "immense honour", stating: "It was a great privilege to serve as prime minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country."

In 2016, the long-delayed Chilcot Report into the Iraq war found that Blair's government "chose to join the invasion... before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted". Adding: "Military action at that time was not a last resort."

It also found that Blair had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime while making the case for military action to both MPs and the public in the build-up to the invasion in 2002 and 2003 and relying more on his own judgement than military intelligence.

In a memo to then-US president George W Bush before UN weapons inspectors had even completed their work, Blair pledged: "I will be with you, whatever."

After the findings were published, Blair gave a two-hour press conference in which he sought to defend his actions, stating: "I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer."

But critics signing the petition have called him a "war criminal", despite the fact that no prosecution has been led against him. 

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One wrote: "Tony Blair should be prosecuted, not knighted. Someone like this being honoured shows how corrupt and vile the system is."

Another said: "A war criminal with the blood of countless innocent on his hands. It proves time for this 'elitist' handing out of 'honours' be done away with."

A third posted: "If it's tradition that former PMs get a knighthood, then high time that tradition gets binned as so many others have recently. No way should this self-centred, egotist be knighted."