Twenty Years since he was in office, Tony Blair rears his head from the sand at the call of Brexit to influence the ruckus. A vocal Remainer, Blair has been said to want to be a part of the Brexit negotiations, to shape the debate, telling the Daily Mirror, “I am going to be taking an active part in trying to shape the policy debate and that means getting out into the country and reconnecting … This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in politics. You need to get your hands dirty, and I will.” He has been vocal about the consequences of a hard Brexit on the single market, and of the Tories that will push for a Brexit “at any cost” that they see fit.
“You need to get your hands dirty, and I will.”
However, Blair, who led Labour to three consecutive general election wins, denied that it was New Labour’s tainted legacy that motivated him to join the fray, though the animosity felt towards him and his government made him “sad”. The end of New Labour was tainted by controversy over the Iraq war and foreign policy decisions after 9/11, and many have indicated that the rise of the hard left headed by Corbyn is due to Blair’s actions towards the end of his career as Prime Minister. He has stated that his desire to re-involve himself in national politics was not just motivated by Brexit. He said, “we live in a world defined by change. There are cultural stresses, people are worried about immigration, the way their communities have changed, economic stresses, people are worried about the quality of their job… whether they will have a job.” Inevitably, the question remains whether Blair will be campaigning solo, or under the divided Labour umbrella – of which he has been critical in the past. This is not particularly outspoken criticism, rather a very obvious disdain for the current leader of the Labour party, and a pointed prediction of Theresa May as the next PM.
He said, “we live in a world defined by change.”
Blair left office in 2007, succeeded by Gordon Brown. Subsequent to 10 years in office, he was officially confirmed as Middle East envoy for the UN, the EU, the United States, and Russia. Blair’s official positon was that he would retain his parliamentary seat after his resignation as Prime Minister, however upon being confirmed for the Middle East role he resigned from Commons as he was undertaking an office of profit. In January 2008, Blair was employed by the investment bank JPMorgan Chase in a “senior advisory capacity”, and also provided advice for Zurich Financial Services on climate change. That same year, it was posited that Blair was the highest paid speaker in the world.
it was posited that Blair was the highest paid speaker in the world
In December of that same year, Tony Blair Associates was created by Blair to “allow him to provide, in partnership with others, strategic advice on a commercial and pro bono basis, on political and economic trends and governmental reform”. The profits from the firm still go towards supporting Blair’s “work on faith, Africa and climate change”- a controversial position, as there were calls from the media at the time of conflicts of interest due to Blair’s position as envoy, many calling for him to be sacked.
Of course, there still remain the bones of Blair’s most infamous achievement; the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. His interventionist foreign policy has been said to have led to the rise of the Corbynite generation and Corbyn himself, with a much more isolationist, pacifying foreign policy.
There’s one thing that is certain – Blair joining the Brexit fray is not necessarily going to make things any easier.