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Labour ‘hostile territory’ for centrists under Corbyn, says Tony Blair

The former Labour leader said it would be a ‘tragedy’ if the party did not change.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (Aaron Chown/PA)
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (Aaron Chown/PA)

By Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor

The Labour Party is “hostile territory” for centrists under Jeremy Corbyn and it will be a “tragedy” if that continues, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.

Mr Blair, who was Labour prime minister for a decade, hit out at his successor for what he said was “essentially a protest leadership”.

In the wake of deep divisions over Brexit, he insisted the current Labour leader was not capable of unifying the country.

And he argued that leaving the European Union without a deal at the end of this month would not be possible if there was a “strong opposition”.

He said: “To be very frank, if you had a really strong opposition, I don’t think the Government would for a single moment contemplate a no-deal Brexit.”

Mr Blair described a no-deal Brexit as being an “an incredible thing to contemplate”, and likened it to jumping out of an aircraft without a parachute and instead being given “this new thing” and being told “but we’ve got a lot of faith in it”.

The former prime minister did not mention Mr Corbyn by name when he spoke at an event in Edinburgh on Tuesday, organised by the think tank Reform Scotland.

But when asked about the state of the party, he said: “It’s certainly hostile territory for centrists at the moment.

At the moment if (the Labour Party) stays as it is it is a tragedy, because of its politics at the moment it is not capable of unifying the country Tony Blair

“At the moment if it stays as it is it is a tragedy, because of its politics at the moment it is not capable of unifying the country.”

Mr Blair continued: “It’s more than just a disagreement about politics, it’s a kind of attitude of mind.

“There’s two types of politician, one politician is standing there with a placard, that’s the politics of protest.

“The other politician, their face is usually on the placard with a great big cross through it.  And they’re the ones that believe in governing.

“But it’s two different attitudes, the protest movement is one that is about declaring the importance of a cause, government is about turning that cause into realisable, achievable policy.

“And my worry, quite apart from all the other things, is at the moment, the leadership of the Labour Party is essentially a protest leadership and it is not a governing leadership.

“If you want to govern you’ve got to have that governing attitude.”



From Belfast Telegraph