UK Politics: Does anyone care what Tony Blair thinks?

Tony Blair believes Brexit and Corbyn would be a double blow for Britain
Join today View market

The former-PM has made another of his interventions - hitting out at Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn - but is anybody listening? Max Liu wonders if Blair is doing his pet causes more harm than good...

"It might sound odd, the former-Labour leader criticising the current Labour leader when Labour are [1.96] to win the next general election, but Blair is nothing if not consistent."

Tony Blair is back. Again. The former-Prime Minister has thought about the seismic events of recent months, including Jeremy Corbyn's surprisingly effective performance during the general election campaign, and reached the conclusion that Britain should stay in the European Union and Labour should readopt his centrist policies. Thanks for that, Tony. Shall we expect you to make exactly the same intervention time six months from now?

It might sound odd, the former-Labour leader criticising the current Labour leader when Labour are [1.96] to win the next general election, but Blair is nothing if not consistent. In 2015, when Corbyn was set to win the Labour leadership contest, Blair said: "Let me make my position clear - I wouldn't want to win from a traditional leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it."

Blair's next intervention came in 2016 when he urged Britons to vote to remain in the European Union. We all know how that turned out, although with the UK [2.9] not to leave the EU before March 31 2019, the battle is far from over for Blair and the other Remainers.

Now Blair is warning that the combination of Brexit and a Corbyn government would be disastrous for Britain: "If a rightwing populist punch in the form of Brexit was followed by a leftwing populist punch in the form of unreconstructed hard-left economics," Blair writes on his website, "Britain would hit the canvas, flat on our back and be out for a long count."

In a way, Blair's consistency is admirable. He believes Corbyn's socialism is wrong for 21st-century Britain and isn't afraid to say so. This is of stark contrast to those within Labour (Alastair Campbell, Yvette Cooper, Owen Smith - the list is long) who from the start didn't bother to engage with Corbyn's policies but just went on and on about him being "unelectable".

In other ways, Blair's consistency shows that, for all that he dismisses Corbyn's policies as a throwback to the 1970s, he fails to see that the world has changed since he came to power in the 1990s. Blair makes some interesting points in his article about Labour's performance at the recent general election - he questions whether Labour can hold on to their new supporters - but it's difficult not to see a pattern where his interventions are concerned: he tries to tell people what to do and people do exactly the opposite because he simply doesn't understand how toxic he is for the causes - keeping Britain in the EU, in this case - he supports.

Johnson tells EU to "go whistle"

Corbyn has never paid much attention to what Blair thinks, even when he was one of Blair's MPs, and that's probably true now more than ever. The Labour leader looked like a Prime Minister in-waiting this week when he went to Brussels to meet Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit. Corbyn described their talks, which were also attended by Keir Starmer and Diane Abbot, as constructive and said that, if he becomes PM, Labour will deliver a Brexit that protects British jobs and services. You see the relief on Barnier's face, at dealing with reasonable, internationalist British politicians, rather than stubborn, anti-European Tories.

Yes, I'm thinking of Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, who this week said the EU could "go whistle" if it expects Britain to pay its divorce bill. This caused consternation in Brussels and Barnier replied: "I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking." Brexit negotiations will resume on Monday and Johnson's latest reckless statement is another reminder why, at [8.6], he's not a good bet to be next Tory leader. Mind you, with David Davis [4.8] the current favourite, the market is wide open.

Join today View market
More UK Politics