by Berk Bektas
The relationship between the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the current Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, isn’t the cosiest.
Both finding themselves on the ends of Labour’s own political spectrum; Jeremy Corbyn rebelled over 400 times while Labour was in government under Blair. Tony Blair openly urged Labour Party members to vote against Jeremy Corbyn when he ran for leader of the Party, stating that if their heart was with Jeremy Corbyn, they should “get a transplant.”
Though they aren’t the best of friends, one would assume that as Tony Blair was a former Labour Prime Minister, and the most successful in the Party’s history, winning two landslide victories and a bigger victory in 2005 than the Tories won in 2015, Blair would naturally urge his followers and the nation to vote Labour. Apparently it isn’t that simple.
Tony Blair is known for being a massive Europhile. During his premiership, he wanted closer relations with the E.U, and for Britain to play a bigger role within it. While in office, he even hinted at Britain joining the Euro, though the idea was scrapped early on.
During the recent European Union referendum, Blair made rare interventions, urging voters to stay in the European Union. He said: “I believe passionately that leaving Europe would leave Britain diminished in the world, do significant damage to our economy and, less obviously but just as important to our future, would go against the very qualities that mark us out still as a great global nation.”
Post-referendum, and after the election was called, Tony Blair didn’t openly call for people to vote Labour, as most people would assume a former Labour Prime Minister would do. Instead, in a 1,200 word statement made 3 days ago, Blair urged voters to vote for anyone who would stop Brexit in order to keep “the Government properly to account in the interests of the country. This should cross party lines.” This would, if not should, ring alarm bells at Labour HQ.
According to a Telegraph article written on the 18th April: “Senior Liberal Democrat sources confirmed that Mr Blair, who won three general elections as Labour leader, and Mr Farron could join forces to make pro-European Union interventions during the campaign.”
It is worth noting though that The Daily Telegraph asked Mr Blair’s office if speculation that the former Prime Minister could campaign during the general election for a party opposing Brexit was true. His spokesman said that this claim was “not true.”
Blair might at some point have to make a statement or intervention during the election campaign, it’ll be interesting to hear what he says and how he says it, as it seems unlikely at this point that Mr. Blair will say “go out and vote for Corbyn,” as the Labour Party’s current position on Brexit is that it will go ahead, but it’ll be a different Brexit to the one the Conservative Party is offering, a ‘soft Brexit’ compared the the Tories ‘hard Brexit.’
It’s still early on in the election campaign, so we’ll have to wait and see what Tony Blair does in the following weeks.
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