Blair on “hard-left economics”, Brexit and “feeling sorry” for Theresa May

17th July, 2017 10:47 am

These are extracts from Tony Blair’s interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News.

On “feeling sorry” for Theresa May…

TB: “Yes, I do, of course because I know what it’s like to do the job and I think it’s a very unsatisfactory situation where you’ve got the prime minister surrounded by people who are just waiting for the moment they decide to throw her off the ledge.  I think there’s something a little bit unseemly about all of it really and I do feel sorry for her.  I think she is somebody who has got the best interests of the country at heart, it’s just that I profoundly disagree with her about Brexit.  I understand why she thinks the people have spoken, it’s my job to deliver that verdict but I would just like to see more leadership and less followership.”

On his “continual self-doubt”….

TB: “First of all by the way, I’ve got continual self-doubt which is what you should have if you are at all sensible about your politics but I just point out, my politics hasn’t been on offer for the last ten years.  I know it often seems as if…

SR: So you think if it had been you’d have been on the winning side?

TB: “No, what I think is this, I think the type of politics that I represented which was a strong commitment to social justice and to social change – remember we introduced the minimum wage, the Good Friday Agreement, we made massive investments in health and education. When I left office health service satisfaction ratings were at the highest level for years and years and years but we were in favour of dynamic business and enterprise. I still think that has got real appeal. Now I agree with you, if you look back over these last years, particularly post the financial crisis then you can say, look that politics has had its day and now what people want is the populism of the left or the populism of the right but then you look at France and see the victory of Macron and you realise it’s not as simple as that.

On Brexit….

TB: “I think it’s possible now that Brexit doesn’t happen. I think it’s absolutely necessary that it doesn’t happen because I think every day is bringing us fresh evidence that it’s damage economically. It’s certainly doing us damage politically…

“I think public opinion is moving on it. This time last year we were the fastest growing economy in the G7, we’re now the slowest; our savings ratio is at the lowest for 50 years; the investment community internationally has now gone really negative on us; our currency is down 10-12%. Investment in the motor car industry is down 30%. Living standards are stagnating. I mean, this is calling is real damage, that’s beyond doubt.”

On Jeremy Corbyn…

SR: “[Corbyn] won the biggest swing to Labour since 1945. You weren’t just a bit off, you were way off.

TB: “Yep. That’s absolutely correct. I think this election, by the way, was held in very unique circumstances. I actually think that at the beginning of the election campaign, we were going to be routed. I think what happened was as much to do with the Tory campaign as our campaign.

“However, I say this absolutely up front in the essay that I’ve written, I’ve got to pay tribute to his temperament during the campaign, to their mobilisation particularly of younger voters, the way they fought the campaign. They’ve generated a lot of enthusiasm, I completely buy that…

“The problem with that old left programme is that it just doesn’t meet the needs of the times… I’m actually really worried about the country at the moment. I think if you follow up Brexit with a hard-left economic programme, this country is going to be in real trouble.”

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