To Top

Tony Blair says his return to British politics is ‘an open question’

Former PM says political centre ground must rise to the challenge of hard Brexit conservatism and an ultra-left Labour party

Tony Blair has refused to rule out a return to British politics in an interview in which he predicts that the centre ground will rise again in the Labour party.

The former prime minister said he is still trying to find a political role which will help the party to become electable.

In an interview with Esquire magazine, he said the centre of British politics will rise again and he does not rule out a role in that rise.

I dont know if theres a role for me, he said. Theres a limit to what I want to say about my own position at this moment. All I can say is that this is where politics is at. Do I feel strongly about it? Yes, I do. Am I very motivated by that? Yes. Where do I go from here? What exactly do I do? Thats an open question.

Theres been a huge reaction against the politics I represent. But I think its too soon to say the centre has been defeated. Ultimately I dont think it will. I think it will succeed again. The centre ground is in retreat. This is our challenge. Weve got to rise to that challenge.

He also reiterated his views on Jeremy Corbyns election and re-election as Labours leader over the course of a year, saying he had a set of policies which would take the UK back to the 1960s.

Frankly, its a tragedy for British politics if the choice before the country is a Conservative government going for a hard Brexit and an ultra-left Labour party that believes in a set of policies that takes us back to the 1960s, he said.

His comments will anger many new party members who have blamed Blairs quest for the centre ground for letting down working class voters, union members and leading the UK into the Iraq war.

Blair was dismissive of Jeremy Corbyns policies, saying they dont work. Photograph: David Gadd/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Blair has spent the nine years since his withdrawal from frontline politics growing an organisation that employed about 200 people and operated in more than 20 countries. Last month, he announced he would stand down to concentrate on not-for-profit organisations.

But in the UK, where he has been criticised for the ways in which he earned his money and for his role in the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, his reputation is low.

Julys Chilcot report was damning about the decision-making in Whitehall and the way in which intelligence was presented, but did not say that Blair lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Asked whether Corbyn could ever be taken seriously as a leader, Blair told the magazine that the problems within the party run deeper than a single individual.

This is not about Jeremy Corbyn, he said. Its about two different cultures in one organism. One culture is the culture of the Labour party as a party of government. And that, historically, is why Labour was formed: to win representation in parliament and ultimately to influence and to be the government of the country.

The other culture is the ultra-left, which believes that the action on the street is as important as the action in parliament, he added. That culture has now taken the leadership of the Labour party. Its a huge problem because they live in a world that is very, very remote from the way that broad mass of people really think.

The reason why the position of these guys is not one that will appeal to an electorate is not because they are too left, or because they are too principled. Its because they are too wrong.

The reason their policies shouldnt be supported isnt because theyre wildly radical, its because they are not. They dont work. They are actually a form of conservatism. This is the point about them. What they are offering is a mixture of fantasy and error.

Read more: