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24 November 2016

Tony Blair: I will help the millions left politically homeless after Brexit

The former Prime Minister talked to Jason Cowley about the rise of right-wing populism, Brexit, Trump and the need for a progressive revival. 

By Julia Rampen

Tony Blair wants to build a platform to help the “millions of politically homeless people” in Britain after Brexit.

The former Labour Prime Minister told the New Statesman Brexit could be stopped, but the right-wing media would not allow him to return to front-line politics. “There are elements of the media who would literally move to destroy mode if I tried to do that,” he said. 

Instead, he said, he is interested in providing “a service” to political leaders, in the form of a technologically-inspired platform. 

In a wide-ranging interview, published in this week’s magazine, he said: “I’m dismayed by the state of Western politics, but also incredibly motivated by it. I think in Britain today, you’ve got millions of effectively politically homeless people.”

Blair, who embraced the EU during his premiership, described Brexit as “a house swap without having seen the other house”.

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He believes it “can be stopped” if British voters decide the “cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up”. 

One of the architects of the centrist New Labour, Blair used the interview to launch a defence of the “muscular centre”. 

Nevertheless, he acknowledged he too could have lost an EU referendum. Recalling 2005, when referendums on the Lisbon Treaty were taking place across Europe, he said: “I thought that was a very, very open question as to whether we were going to win or not.”

On the election of Donald Trump as US president, he said voters “want to change” and he could see why even Americans in the centre ground might be drawn to his messages on culture and identity.

Discussing UK politics, Blair denied reports he called the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, a “lightweight”, insisting “I would not be rude and disrespectful in that way”. 

Nevertheless he was scathing about the current leadership of the Labour party. Although he denied reports he called Jeremy Corbyn “a nutter”, he said: “The leadership has been captured by the far left for the first time in the party’s history.”

You can read the full article here.