Tony Blair will reportedly be returning to Westminster through a new globally-focused organisation. But some suspect this is a guise to influence Brexit negotiations. And this has delighted some Leave MPs who think that such a disgraced figure batting for the other team will only strengthen the Brexit movement.
Sniffing around Westminster
According to reports in The Sunday Times (paywall), Blair has set up meetings around Westminster to discuss the Middle East and aid. But sources have told The Sunday Times that these have been used to find out the government’s plan on Brexit.
Sources also said (paywall) that he is moving his offices closer to Whitehall and rebranding several previous consultancies as an organisation or institute “for Global Change”.
The move, which indicates he is seeking a return to politics, comes after several meetings with political players including US President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Conservative ex-Chancellor George Osborne is another key subject the former prime minister has met with. Aides in Downing Street believe the pair are forming an “unholy alliance” with other pro-remain MPs.
Blair has apparently said (paywall) that, between a ‘nutter’ like Jeremy Corbyn and a ‘lightweight’ like Theresa May, he is the only one capable of delivering in a post-Brexit world. And Blair and Osborne have been discussing the implications for the UK.
Blair’s anti-Brexiting is perfect for Brexit
But Blair’s bid to save Britain from itself has been laughed off by many Brexit hard-liners.
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said:
This is glorious news, he is one of those discredited establishment figures who repels many people. For this he must win the international prize for lack of self awareness this year.
Pro ‘hard brexit’ MPs Peter Lilley and John Redwood have expressed similar sentiments. Lilley called it a “complete win”. And Redwood said Blair “discredits” most things he touches.
In the meantime
However, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations still hang in the balance. Whether May will negotiate an agreeable ‘soft’ Brexit deal or will have to give way to a hard Brexit without access to the single market is still unknown. And plans to trigger Article 50 hover under a legal cloud. May in the meantime is apparently mitigating some of the losses from EU membership by pledging to put an extra £2bn into science and technology annually by 2020. But her promotion of innovation comes conveniently at the same time as her move to make further cuts to corporation tax, ensuring big businesses profit further.
Blair’s eagerness to return is probably no surprise. He has been chiding Corbyn since he won his party’s leadership. But his posturing as the UK’s saviour tells a stark story about his own self-awareness.
As Brexiteers suggest, Blair is unpopular. But that perhaps detracts from actually a very important observation about May. So far, post-referendum, she has done very little to secure the future of Britain should it exit the EU. She has simply tried to ensure that only corporations and the wealthy flourish – perhaps forgetting why so many in Britain voted to leave in the first place.
– Read more Canary articles about Brexit here.
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