A majority of Labour's potential new MPs in the West Midlands refused to back the war in Iraq yesterday, as Tony Blair was attacked on all sides over the conflict.

The war is now a major election issue late in the campaign, after it emerged Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, published secret advice warning the conflict could be illegal.

But only two of the five new candidates selected to defend Labour-held seats in the region were willing to support the war unequivocally when approached by The Birmingham Post.

Ian Austin, the former Treasury adviser standing for Labour in Dudley North, and Pat McFadden, the former adviser to the Prime Minister standing in Wolverhampton South East, both confirmed they backed the decision to remove Saddam Hussein.

But Robert Flello, who is standing for Labour in Stoke South, said it was clear with hindsight that the arguments for attacking Iraq had been wrong, as no weapons of mass destruction had been found.

Jayne Innes, who is standing for Labour in the highly marginal seat of Yardley, in Birmingham, said it was essential to support Iraqis now, but would not be drawn on whether she believed the war had been right.

She said: "I wasn't in the Commons at the time. In fact I was in hospital when the debates were taking place, and wasn't in a position to follow them in detail."

Lynda Waltho, the Labour candidate for Stourbridge, another highly marginal seat, was not returning calls yesterday.

Former foreign secretary Robin Cook yesterday added to the pressure on Mr Blair by calling for the Government to publish the legal advice it received over Iraq in full.

It followed the leaking of Attorney General Lord Goldsmith's original 13-page legal advice, in which he warned the war could be illegal on six counts.

Conservative leader Michael Howard has repeated his claim that Mr Blair had lied to the country over Iraq.

He said the PM and the Attorney General had " directly contradicted each other" about advice on the legality of the Iraq war.