Tony Blair urges tactical voting as he accuses Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson of ‘fantasy’ Brexit plans – saying Remainers should treat December 12 as ‘650 mini-elections’
Tony Blair urged tactical voting today as he accused Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of ‘fantasy’ Brexit plans.
The former PM complained that British politics is ‘a mess’ and ‘utterly dysfunctional’, repeating his call for a referendum to cancel the departure from the EU.
He said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was offering ‘populism of the Left’, while the Tories were just relying on the public rejecting his high-tax and nationalisation agenda.
Mr Blair said voters should treat the contest on December 12 as ‘650 mini elections’ – suggesting they should back whichever candidates will help the Remain cause.
In a speech today, Tony Blair complained that British politics is ‘a mess’ and ‘utterly dysfunctional’, repeating his call for a referendum to cancel the departure from the EU
The intervention came in a speech at a Reuters Newsmaker event this morning.
Mr Blair has been supporting individual candidates in the campaign so far, but made clear his disdain for Labour’s current leadership.
‘The Conservative Party say vote Tory and Brexit will be done; it will be over,’ he said.
‘They even add – do it and we can get back to dealing with the important issues.
‘The cheek is quite breath-taking. So, having visited this debacle upon us, which has distracted us from those big issues for over three years, they now use the distraction as a reason for doing Brexit, not abandoning it.
‘But it appeals. It is, however, a fantasy. Brexit isn’t over on 12 December, nor even on 31 January next year. We immediately begin the new phase of Brexit negotiation.’
He added: ‘The Conservatives calculate that they can force people to elect them, despite worry over Brexit, because Jeremy Corbyn is the alternative.
‘The Labour Party leadership calculate they can combine traditional Labour support around issues like the NHS, with Remain voters who hate Brexit, despite fear about the Labour Leader.
‘In other words, both parties want to win on the basis that whatever your dislike of what they’re offering, the alternative is worse.’
Mr Blair said: ‘Yet though Brexit is a distraction, it is also the vital determinant of the nation’s future.
‘It remains the single most important decision since 1945. Because of its effect on the economy, it impacts every one of the non-Brexit promises the parties are making.
‘Doing it matters. How it is done matters. And exhaustion is not the frame of mind in which to do it.
‘No-deal Brexit is not off the table. It is slap bang in the middle of it.
Boris Johnson is campaigning in Wales after unveiling the ‘safety first’ programme yesterday (pictured), focusing on pledges to get the UK out of the EU, recruit more nurses, and cut taxes
‘When people hear the phrase no deal, they often think we just mean failure to agree; which in Brexiteer language means we haven’t surrendered.
‘What it really means is throwing our economy off a cliff and hoping it finds a parachute on the way down.
‘It is a risk no responsible leader would take. Yet we may be about to empower a leader – Boris Johnson – to take such a risk.’
On Labour, he will say: ‘The Labour Party manifesto is heralded by its leadership as the most radical ever.
‘This is true. It promises a revolution; and if implemented it would indeed amount to one…The problem with revolutions is never how they begin but how they end.’
Mr Blair is expected to say: ‘The polls predict a Conservative victory and put the chances of an outright Labour victory as negligible. But I wouldn’t trust Boris Johnson with a blank cheque.’