In accepting Gordon Brown’s claim of £18 billion spent on the war in Iraq, the Chilcot Enquiry missed a yawning goal from five inches out.

Figures freely available to anyone on the internet prove that Gordon Brown yesterday misled the Chilcot Inquiry into believing he had been generous to the Armed Forces invading and working in Iraq. The official statistics in fact give the opposite impression.

Only after Brown left his job as Chancellor did the amounts spent on the occupation increase massively.

With Gordon Brown, when the numbers need to be small, he’ll make them small. When he needs to show largesse, they’ll be big. This is why the figure he gave the Iraq Inquiry yesterday was £18 billion – and not under £8 billion as it should have been.

Overall, the £18 billion of claimed expenditure on the Iraq War bears no relation at all to what Brown and others said at the time…or what the MoD has been saying since.

In 2003, then Chancellor Gordon Brown told the House of Commons there was just £3billion set aside to cover “the full costs of the UK’s military obligations” in his Budget speech. By 2006, the total stood at £4.5 billion – it had become necessary to use the wonderfully named ‘Special Reserve’.

But everyone has an agenda, and lots of figures have been bandied around over the years: the small ones emanate from the Treasury; the big ones emanate from anti-War sites.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) gives a more exact running total on its own website. These figures are repeated on lots of other sites. It would’ve taken the Chilcot Inquiry about ninety seconds to find them.

They show that the actual invasion really was done on the cheap: £874 million. The year following, we spent £1.3 billion. And over the next three years, Brown’s largesse was stuck at just over £900million.

There are several sticks of dynamite in the numbers. First off, the small figure devoted to the invasion itself supports (a) Hoon saying the army involved inthe invasion was starved of money, and (b) Clare Short saying the whole thing was last-minute and ‘run on a shoestring’.

Secondly, it seems very odd to spend £1.3 billion just in that one second year. Perhaps some further digging might show the odd MoD/Foreign Aid memo (as yet unshredded) reporting that without more money urgently, it was likely to turn very nasty indeed. Certainly, Andrew Rawnsley’s serialised Observer commentary shows Blair in a bad state about how things were going during 2004.

And of course, Brown wasn’t in a strong position at this time: so the chances are he was arm locked into releasing more.

But above all, only when Brown becomes PM (and Darling takes over) does the total annual spend leap to £1.46 billion. In fact, in all the years since Brown left his onerous position as King Blair’s Paymaster General, the spend has been between 30-50% higher than it was under his tutelage.

At Chilcot, Brown called the newly-minted total ‘all up’, ‘inclusive of’, ‘direct and indirect’ and so forth. So my initial guess was that (as with everything said by New Labour once you interrogate it) the total related to something else – perhaps the total spent on invasion and occupation from 2003 until 2007.

But I can’t find this eighteen billion quid anywhere before Gordon proudly paraded it in his evidence to the Dead Sheep of Chilcot yesterday.

The official armed forces website records that ‘a grand total of £6,439 million had been spent on the commitment in Iraq by the end of FY 2007-08′; and it adds that ‘The estimate for the costs of operations in Iraq during 2008-09 is £1,379 million‘.

So that’s under eight billion. I know Brown is a brick short of a load, but we’re ten billion short of a budget here. Even if he craftily added Afghanistan, the total is still under £14 billion up to today.

I have three questions to end with, because my Broadband window is closing again:

1. Where are the Tory researchers? (for the third time this week)
2. Are the Chilcots awake?
3. Is Martin Gilbert merely part of a cryogenic experiment?

The internet is free, and I’m busy with family stuff. Help yourselves to the task of further digging.