Culture 12 October 2010 Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens to face off over religion Writer and former prime minister to debate role of religion in Toronto. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Despite his recent diagnosis with oesophageal cancer, Christopher Hitchens (who I interviewed earlier this year) has continued to debate religious figures, most recently Tariq Ramadan, across the United States. Now he's due to face the Vicar of Albion himself, Tony Blair. Blair has agreed to debate Hitchens in Toronto on 26 November (the event will be streamed live online) on the motion: "Is religion a force for peace or conflict in the modern world?" Hitchens was an ardent supporter of Blair's wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, but he has long opposed what he describes as the former prime minister's "sickly piety". On Blair, he said: "He couldn't do it while he was prime minister, but he went 'over to Rome' as soon as he could. Very bizarrely he did this at one of the most conservative times for the Catholic Church, under one of the most conservative Popes". "I've never had the chance to sit down and talk it through with him ... It's not like I'm going to be arguing with Pat Robertson. Mr. Blair's a much more complex person than that," he added. Whether Blair, who hasn't done much jousting since his Commons days, is battle-ready remains to be seen. But either way, one suspects that the encounter will be more respectful than the famous duel between Hitchens ("a drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay") and George Galloway ("a sub-Leninist, East End carpetbagger"). › Gilbey on Film: 3-D is a con George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles The Tinkerbell theory: I wish politicians would stop blaming their failures on my lack of belief Terry Eagleton's Materialism treats its arguments like carelessly piled bricks Is the Unite general secretary election over already?