Tony Blair REFUSES to say he will vote Labour at the next general election amid Corbyn’s meltdown over Brexit and anti-Semitism
- Tony Blair repeatedly dodges question over whether he will vote for Labour
- Former prime minister says party’s anti-Semitism crisis is ‘a real problem for me’
- Mr Blair also claims Labour and Conservatives are in ‘deep and serious trouble’
Tony Blair refused to say three times whether he would vote for Labour at the next general election as the party continues to struggle with Brexit and allegations of anti-Semitism.
The former prime minister, who has been highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, repeatedly dodged the question over his voting intention when he was grilled on BBC Newsnight.
However, Mr Blair hinted he may not be able to back the party he led for 13 years as he said the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis was ‘a real problem for me’ and urged Mr Corbyn to deal with it.
He also claimed both Labour and the Conservatives are in ‘deep and serious trouble’ with both of the parties’ futures unclear.
Mr Blair, a vocal advocate for a second Brexit referendum and for the UK to remain in the EU, was told he now sounded more like a Liberal Democrat.
Asked directly who he would vote for at the next general election he replied last night: ‘I’m not a Lib Dem.
‘I’m not any different from how I’ve always been. This is the position that I’ve always adopted on Europe, and I’ve always been in favour of Britain remaining in Europe.
‘But if you’re asking me about the state of the Labour Party, look – there will be a moment to debate the state of the Labour Party.
‘It’s just not now, we’ve got to deal with Brexit first.’
Tony Blair, pictured during an appearance on BBC Newsnight last night, would not be drawn on whether he will vote Labour at the next general election
Mr Blair urged Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in Tolpuddle at the weekend, to get a grip of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis
Asked if he could envisage backing the Lib Dems who yesterday elected Jo Swinson as their new leader, Mr Blair said he did not ‘want to vote Lib Dem, I want to vote Labour’.
He suggested the party’s seemingly confusing stance on Brexit would not be enough to stop him from voting for Labour.
‘But I won’t resile from the fact that the Labour Party is in a difficult situation at the moment, particularly with this anti-Semitism business,’ he said.
‘Brexit for me, by the way, is not a reason for voting Labour or not voting Labour.
‘I’ve got longstanding friends in the Labour Party who are pro-Brexit.
‘It doesn’t mean to say we don’t share the same values on other things.
‘But the anti-Semitism thing is a real problem for me because I think it is just fundamentally repugnant to everything the Labour Party should stand for.
‘So I hope we can sort it out because if we don’t, yeah, it’s going to be a big problem.’
Asked for the final time if he would be able to vote Labour as things stand at the moment, Mr Blair replied: ‘We’ll get to that.
‘Let’s hope the Labour Party seizes and grips this anti-Semitism thing and deals with it, because otherwise that’s going to be a big problem.
‘There will be a time when I’ll be very happy to talk about where the Labour Party goes and what it should do, but right now I just feel that the overwhelming focus has got to be around Brexit.’
Mr Corbyn sparked fury last night after putting forward a plan to give his political ally a much greater role in tackling anti-Semitism within the party.
Addressing an emergency meeting to discuss Labour’s handling of the crisis, he said he wanted to set up a new disciplinary panel chaired by Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary.
It came as Labour revealed just eight people have been expelled for anti-Semitism so far this year despite all the rhetoric about cracking down on the problem.
There were complaints against 625 Labour members in the first six months of 2019.
Mr Corbyn told the shadow cabinet yesterday that his new proposals would speed up Labour’s disciplinary processes in the most serious cases of racial hatred towards Jews.
Mr Blair and Gordon Brown, pictured together in June, joined forces with Sir John Major yesterday to criticise Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan
Mr Johnson, pictured today in Westminster ahead of the Tory leadership announcement, has promised to deliver Brexit by October 31 ‘do or die’
Trio of former PMs put pressure on Boris over No Deal Brexit plan
Three former prime ministers have told Boris Johnson he must choose between leading the UK and being a ‘spokesman for an ultra-Brexit faction’ as they warned him not to take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major joined forces yesterday to launch an anti-No Deal pincer movement against the man expected to be installed as the next PM on Wednesday.
Sir John warned his fellow Conservative that should he pursue a No Deal Brexit ‘he cannot complain if he faces uncompromising opposition from those who believe they have had their views ignored’.
Mr Blair ridiculed the former mayor of London’s Brexit plan, insisted the EU will dismiss any attempt to ditch the Irish border backstop and told him to stop letting Nigel Farage dictate policy.
Meanwhile, Mr Brown issued a grave No Deal warning as he said leaving the bloc without an agreement would be ‘deeply damaging’ and compared it to the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Meanwhile, Labour remains split over Brexit. The party’s current position is to push for a referendum on any Tory-led departure from the EU.
Pro-Brexit Labour MPs are against the policy because they believe it will be seen by many voters as the party trying to stop the UK leaving the bloc.
The policy is also not particularly popular with some Labour MPs who want a second referendum because they believe it does not go far enough.
Mr Blair told the BBC that he felt more pessimistic about the state of Britain’s two main parties than ever before.
The Conservative Party will today announce its new leader with Boris Johnson expected to comfortably beat Jeremy Hunt in the race for Number 10.
Yesterday Mr Blair joined forces with fellow former PMs Gordon Brown and Sir John Major to criticise Mr Johnson’s Brexit plan and warn against a No Deal departure from the EU.
Mr Blair said: ‘I think I find my optimism only in the fact that there are large numbers of people who find the present situation unacceptable.
‘What is difficult is that it’s not clear what the right political way forward is in order to give voice to that group of people. That’s very difficult.
‘And so I’m more pessimistic about the state of the two main political parties that have governed Britain on and off for the last 100 years. I’m more pessimistic about that than I’ve ever been.
‘I think both of them are in deep and serious trouble.’
Mr Blair has repeatedly clashed with Mr Corbyn during the latter’s time as leader of the Labour Party.
Most recently in June, Mr Blair launched a blistering attack on his successor and told him ‘enough is enough’ after Mr Corbyn had appeared to criticse the record of the last Labour government.
Source: Read Full Article