Blair right on Brexit, now needs action or retreat

Blair right on Brexit, now needs action or retreat

Tony Blair

Tony Blair: A Divisive Figure with Valuable Insights

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair may be a polarizing figure in today’s political landscape, but it is important not to let this detract from the valuable insights he offers. Despite his reputation being tarnished by his handling of the financial crisis and the Iraq War, Blair remains the most successful British politician of the past two decades. His strategic thinking and ability to secure three strong election victories cannot be dismissed as mere luck or manipulation.

Blair’s recent speech on Brexit, although met with predictable derision, should not be dismissed as anti-democratic. He acknowledges the will of the people to leave Europe and respects the referendum result. However, he urges politicians to honestly assess the realities and contradictions surrounding Brexit, including the lack of full knowledge of the terms and the potential negative impact on public priorities such as healthcare. Blair’s message is not about overturning the result but about making the case for change if it is deemed necessary.

Critics of Blair’s intervention argue that it could make it harder for pro-Europeans to reverse or soften Brexit in the future. They suggest that a more passive and aligned approach is required to win over public opinion. However, this approach has proven unsuccessful in the past. The failed Remain campaign focused too heavily on concessions and fear tactics, ultimately leading to a hard Brexit. Blair suggests a change in strategy is needed, and it’s hard to argue against that given the current situation.

One legitimate concern regarding Blair’s involvement is his divisive and distant image. His recent speech was delivered in the slick environment of Bloomberg’s European headquarters, far removed from the concerns of everyday voters. To make a real impact, Blair needs to engage with the public at grassroots levels, hosting open debates, appearing on popular shows, and meeting Brexit voters face-to-face. It is a tough path to follow, as it will undoubtedly subject him to personal abuse and media scorn. However, it might just offer him a chance to rebuild his reputation and prove that he still has something valuable to contribute.

Unfortunately, it seems Blair may opt for a compromised approach. Establishing a political institute and making occasional speeches will not be enough to change public perceptions or be an asset to pro-Europeans. Blair must decide whether to step back and let fresher faces take the lead or fully engage in the political contest, ready to face the challenges head-on. The old master of triangulation will find no success in the middle ground.

In conclusion, while Blair may be a divisive figure, we should not disregard his valuable insights. His record as a successful politician speaks for itself, and his recent speech on Brexit highlights important points that should not be dismissed. It is up to Blair to decide if he wants to step back or step forward, but staying in the middle ground will not bring about the change he seeks.