Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Britain decides: UK main parties don’t deserve to win election, says Tony Blair

The former Prime Minister suggested voting tactically against pro-Brexit candidates

Tony Blair said the two main parties had failed to convince the public. Reuters
Tony Blair said the two main parties had failed to convince the public. Reuters

Neither of the UK’s main two political parties deserve to win a December 12 general election, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday.

Mr Blair, who led Labour to three election wins and is anti-Brexit, claimed his party was now run with a revolutionary zeal by its “Marxist-Leninist wing” under leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"The problem with revolutions is never how they begin but how they end," said Mr Blair. "The problem with revolutions is that they always end badly."

"The truth is: the public aren't convinced either main party deserves to win this election outright,” he said.

“We're a mess, the buoyancy of the world economy has kept us going up to now, but should that falter, we will be in deep trouble."

Mr Blair offered his support for “good, solid mainstream independent-minded MPs and candidates in both parties,” he said as he appeared to back tactical voting against Brexiteer politicians.

“I don’t think a majority government of either side is a good thing,” he told the audience.

As the Conservatives move rightward and Labour more left-wing, so-called ‘moderates’ risk being crowded out.

Mr Blair insisted he would be voting for Labour but warned that the party was heading for a major debate over the direction it was heading. He added that he could understand why some would vote for the Liberal Democrats, which has promised to overturn Brexit.

Mr Corbyn has promised a radical political change towards socialism that would see a rise in taxes and the re-nationalisation of certain industries. Both parties have drawn up policies to fight against homelessness.

The Labour leader rejected Mr Blair’s criticism, saying it was a “sensible” costed, sustainable plan that would improve public services and opportunities in the country.

Mr Blair rubbished claims by the ruling Conservatives that they could finish Brexit talks within a year and warned a no-deal withdrawal, which critics warn could devastate the UK economy, remained on the table.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union by January 31 if he wins a parliamentary majority and then to negotiate a comprehensive deal with the bloc covering trade and future relations during a transition period due to end next December.

Mr Blair hit out at Mr Johnson, who has been criticised for allegedly misleading people – including Queen Elizabeth.

“Brexit is not over after Brexit because you’ve still got the main negotiation to happen even after the 31st of January when you’re supposed to leave,” Mr Blair later told the BBC.

“I wish it were as simple as just do it, but it isn’t and anybody who’s telling you that it is that simple is conning you and that’s another reason which worries me about Boris Johnson.”

The Conservatives announced it would set out its legislative agenda on December 19 should it win the general election, paving the way for Brexit to be done as quickly as possible. The party is currently leading Labour by 14 percentage points according to a poll tracker.

Sterling climbed above 10-day lows versus the dollar on the back of the Conservative poll lead amid hopes they may will end the Brexit uncertainty.

"Markets can only really see a Tory victory and it's looking so likely that I don't see it giving sterling much more support. Most of it is in the price already," said Colin Asher, senior economist at Mizuho, told Reuters.

The Conservatives have been forced to defend a manifesto that is light on policy apart from Brexit.

Updated: November 25, 2019 07:50 PM

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