Tony Blair has said Brexit can be “stopped” and hinted he will launch a political movement aiming to revive the “liberal agenda” which is challenged by “popular movements” in the West.
The former Labour party prime minister said his new, online movement would push for an “open” world, opposed to both “anti-immigrant” sentiments on the right and “anti-business” attitudes on the left, in a wide-ranging interview with the New Statesman.
He insisted he would not return to the front line of politics but wanted to “build a platform” and “create the space for a political debate about where modern Western democracies go and where the progressive forces particularly find their place…”
“I can’t come into front-line politics. There’s just too much hostility, and also there are elements of the media who would literally move to destroy me if I tried to do that…” he explained.
“One advantage of today’s social media is that you can build networks. Movements can begin at scale and build speed quickly,” Mr. Blair said.
On Brexit, he said: “It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up.”
He blamed “a very powerful cartel of the media on the right” for the referendum result, and insisted voters would change their minds when they felt the “consequences” and realise they were misled.
Mr. Blair said Donald Trump’s victory in America was also “part of a general global movement, which is partly a reaction to globalisation and partly economic. But it is also a lot to do with culture and identity, and people’s feelings that the world is changing rapidly around them and that the left doesn’t get this.”
However, according to the New Statesman, his response to such concerns “is not to reject but to reaffirm his commitment to it and to free market economics and the open society”.
Later in the interview, he said: “Feelings of culture and identity are bound to happen at a period of rapid change. The sensible thing is to deal with those issues and anxieties.
“And to deal with them by having strong, clear policy positions on them – that then allows you to make the sensible case for immigration, but for controls.”
Despite insisting that lessons must be learnt, Mr. Blair also defended his record in office, claiming: “The government that I led… actually did a huge amount for the people who were left behind by the policies of the previous Conservative government.”