Tony Blair: Scottish Independence a ‘Possibility’, Boris Johnson Can’t ‘Save the Union’

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 07: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Forum Stage during day two of Web Summit 2018 at the Altice Arena on November 7, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. In 2018, more than 70,000 attendees from over 170 countries will fly to Lisbon for Web Summit, including …
Harry Murphy /Web Summit via Getty Images

Tony Blair said that Scottish independence is now a “possibility”, warning that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is not going to be the person who saves the Union”, claiming that only a resurgent Labour Party would keep Scotland in the United Kingdom.

On Sunday, the former Labour Party British Prime Minister said that he doesn’t believe it is in the interest of the Scottish people to leave the UK, citing economic and cultural ties, but warned that Brexit may bolster the independence movement.

“My view of Scotland is there’s been two problems really over the last decade,” Mr Blair told Sky News, explaining that the Labour Party “went off, in my view, completely the wrong direction on Scotland” and that there was “no proper opposition” to the Scottish National Party, with the exception of the Scottish Conservatives under the leadership of Ruth Davidson.

Mr Blair said that if the Labour Party were to revive itself in Scotland, it would be a “significant advantage to preserving the Union”, adding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is not going to be the person who saves the Union”.

In a separate part of the interview, Mr Blair did admit that he did not believe that Russian interference was responsible for the British people voting to leave the European Union.

“That would be foolish in my view,” Blair said but went on to suggest that the government had downplayed the threat of Russia during the EU referendum.

“Whether we’ve taken our eye off the ball or just decided not to put our eye on it is an interesting question,” he said.

The Russia report by the Independent Security Committee found that there was “no evidence” that Russia interfered in the Brexit vote. The heavily redacted report did point to possible Russian interference in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, though did not give clear evidence as to what the Russian government did to interfere.

Support for Scottish independence has been rising as of late, with a poll conducted by Panelbase finding that a majority in the country, 54 per cent, are in favour of leaving the United Kingdom. The same poll found, however, that just 14.8 per cent of Scotts list the issue as a top priority, trailing behind Brexit, the economy, health, education, and the cost of living.

The poll was commissioned by the Nicola Sturgeon led Scottish National Party, which seeks to declare independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. The party — somewhat paradoxically — also seeks to rejoin the European Union.

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, admitted on Sunday that it was a “huge strategic error” by refraining to stick “the boot in” after the 2014 independence referendum.

“Mistakes have been made, and one of these was not sticking the boot in after the 2014 referendum. We wanted the country to come back together and we were, if you like, interested in showing ourselves to be bigger people than them. That was, morally, the right thing to do, but tactically it was a mistake. A huge strategic error in fact,” Davidson told The Sunday Times.

“However, the fundamental strengths of working across the UK remain. So too do the fundamental weaknesses of pro-indy positions on key economic elements such as currency, central bank. That’s not enough, and we know that, and work is going on to develop a new Union story. But I do disagree with those who think the SNP trajectory is inevitably ever upwards,” she added.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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