Nelson Mandela was so furious with Tony Blair over the invasion of Iraq, he “breathed fire” down the down to then Welsh Secretary Peter Hain.

Hain said: “He rang me up when I was a cabinet minister in 2003, after the invasion.

“He said: ‘A big mistake, Peter, a very big mistake. It is wrong. Why is Tony doing this after all his support for Africa? This will cause huge damage internationally’.

“I know Nelson Mandela quite well. He was virtually breathing fire down the phone on this and feeling a sense of betrayal.”

“I had never heard Nelson Mandela so angry and frustrated.

“He clearly felt very, very strongly that the decision that the prime minister had taken – and that I as a member of the Cabinet had been party to – was fundamentally wrong and he told me it would destroy all the good things that Tony Blair and we, as a government, had done in progressive policy terms across the world.

“He was always full of praise for the way our government had trebled the overseas aid and development budget for Africa; he just felt that all of this had been completely blown out of the water by the Iraq invasion.

Labour MP Peter Hain’s biography of the ex-South African president, Mandela: The Story of a Universal Hero, is published on Monday.

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