Blair hints he could run for Parliament to fight Brexit

23 Apr

Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories.

The former Prime Minister, who quit Westminster 10 years ago after a decade in No 10, admitted he felt ‘motivated’ to return to the front line.

He insisted Brexit was ‘bigger than party allegiance’ and said while he would vote Labour on June 8, voters should look at the choice on their own patch and back the best anti Brexit candidates – even if they were Tories.

The remarks prompted a former senior aide to Jeremy Corbyn to call for Mr Blair to be expelled from Labour. 

Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories (file picture) 

Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories (file picture) 

Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories (file picture) 

Mr Blair repeated his view it was likely Mrs May would secure the victory she wanted which meant the question of the campaign should be Brexit and not who would be Prime Minister.

The hints at a return to the front line suggest an extraordinary U-turn from the former Labour leader, who has insisted for months he had no intention of doing so and acknowledging the political baggage he brings.

Speculation has grown since the new year when Mr Blair closed down his profit making businesses and ploughed the proceeds into his own non-profit ‘institute’. 

Mr Blair told the BBC World This Weekend: ‘I look at the British political scene at the moment and I actually almost feel motivated to go right back into it.

‘We’re just allowing ourselves to be hijacked by what is actually quite a small group of people with a strong ideology.’ 

Asked directly if he would seek a seat, Mr Blair said: ‘I tell you what I fancy, I fancy doing whatever I can to make the debate in this election a proper debate.’

Mr Blair accused Mrs May of pursuing Brexit ‘at any cost’ and suggested allowing her to win a landslide at the upcoming election would be giving her a ‘blank cheque’ on the issue.

‘What this election needs is a new dimension in it because otherwise, frankly, we’re going to literally roll through the next few weeks.

‘It needs a new dimension where we put would-be candidates and MPs under pressure to say: are you going to back Brexit at any cost or are there circumstances in which you’re prepared to say this deal is not in the interests of the country?’

Mr Blair repeated his view the polls suggested Jeremy Corbyn (pictured on the Andrew Marr Show today) had only a narrow chance of victory meaning the election should be fought on Brexit 

Mr Blair repeated his view the polls suggested Jeremy Corbyn (pictured on the Andrew Marr Show today) had only a narrow chance of victory meaning the election should be fought on Brexit 

Mr Blair repeated his view the polls suggested Jeremy Corbyn (pictured on the Andrew Marr Show today) had only a narrow chance of victory meaning the election should be fought on Brexit 

He added: ‘I personally couldn’t support somebody in an election who was going to say ”I’m just going to sign up to Brexit at any cost”.

‘That isn’t the position of the Labour party, but leave that to one side. This is something that is bigger than party allegiance in this particular election.’

Mr Blair refused to be drawn on how Remain supporters should cast their ballots in individual seats, but he said what he was advocating ‘may mean’ voting Lib Dem in some areas.

But he was quick to insist: ‘I’m not going to advocate people vote tactically. What I’m saying is they should vote on an informed basis on this issue.’

And he insisted that although he would ‘always vote Labour’ himself he was willing to ‘work with anyone to get this argument across in the country’.

Mr Blair said a landslide win for Theresa May (pictured in Dudley yesterday) would be taken as a mandate for a hard Brexit 

Mr Blair said a landslide win for Theresa May (pictured in Dudley yesterday) would be taken as a mandate for a hard Brexit 

Mr Blair said a landslide win for Theresa May (pictured in Dudley yesterday) would be taken as a mandate for a hard Brexit 

Matt Zarb-Cousin, Mr Corbyn’s former spokesman, tweeted:  ‘Should be kicked out of the party.’

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: ‘Tony Blair’s intervention today shows something: this election is your chance to change Britain’s future.

‘If you want to avoid a hard Brexit you need to support the Liberal Democrats. The Tories have chosen a divisive hard Brexit.

‘Labour have gone along with it. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting it.’

Theresa May will use Tory manifesto to promise to slash energy bills for 17million homes

Theresa May will promise to reform the energy market and slash up to £100 off the bills of 17million homes in her manifesto it emerged today.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8.

The Tories will move to regulate standard tariffs, which are used by most households even if they are not the cheapest option available.

Mrs May is already underfire for stealing a policy that was at the heart of Labour’s 2015 manifesto and which the Tories condemned at the time.

It has also failed to end questions about whether the Tories will raise taxes after the election or scrap the ‘triple lock’ protecting pension increases.

But on a day when Jeremy Corbyn is being slammed for appearing weak on national security, the Tory high command will believe the criticism can be avoided.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8

Confirming the energy policy would go ahead, Mr Green told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: ‘I think people feel some of the big energy companies have taken advantage of them with the tariffs they’ve got.’

He said it differed to a previous policy to freeze bills from former Labour leader Ed Miliband at the 2015 general election.

He added: ‘The difference is that we would have Ofgem setting a limit so it would be a cap, more flexible, be able to reflect market conditions so the market would still have an influence.’

Labour insists it does back Trident after Corbyn admitted he would never use the deterrent and might SCRAP it in car crash interview

Labour spinners have been forced to step in and insist the party does support Britain’s nuclear deterrent after Jeremy Corbyn suggested he would never use it and might scrap it.

Mr Corbyn said using nuclear weapons would be a ‘disaster’ and said the essential renewal of Britain’s Trident submarines would be included in his defence review.

The shock claims came in a car crash interview in which Mr Corbyn also said he would stop all air strikes on Syria, refused to back a drone strike on the terror group’s leader and hinted at pulling UK troops out of Nato’s defence against Russia.

The Tories said it was clear ‘Jeremy Corbyn would refuse to strike against terrorists and dismantle our nuclear defences’.

Hours after the disastrous interview aired, a Labour spokesman said: ‘The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that.’  

Mr Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he wanted a peaceful world but rebuffed a barrage of questions about real security threats facing Britain today

Mr Corbyn, who is a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he would have an ‘immediate’ security and defence review if he takes power.

Asked if he would ever use nuclear weapons, Mr Corbyn said: ‘We want a secure and peaceful world. We achieve that by promoting peace, but also by promoting security.

‘Security comes from that process.’ 

 

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