Tony Blair: There is a “void at the heart” of Labour’s Brexit strategy


Tony Blair. Miles Cole for the New Statesman

The former Labour leader on tech, the Middle East and the choice facing Labour – carry on with a hard Brexit, or ditch it and accomplish a radical programme.

When Tony Blair relaunched himself in 2016 – out went the consultancy for questionable oligarchs, in came a focus on big, vague Miss World-like topics such as “governance” and “peace” – his Institute for Global Change chose a provocative slogan. According to its website, it wants to make globalisation “work for the many, not the few”. Remind you of anyone? Yes, it’s the tag line used by Jeremy Corbyn during this year’s election – but it was taken from New Labour. Now, it seems, Tony Blair wants his soundbite back.

We meet at the institute’s offices in Bloomsbury, central London. There are acres of cream carpet, tasteful Middle East cityscapes, delicate Japanese screens and abstract sculptures that often reveal themselves, on closer inspection, to be awards from worthy international groups. The message is clear: Labour’s greatest election-winner might be a pariah in Britain – a recent appearance on The Andrew Marr Show was not advertised the night before, as guests usually are, because of security concerns – but his expertise is still valued abroad.

We talk about foreign policy – China, Iran, America – but it’s clear that Brexit and Labour are irresistible subjects. The great persuader still wants to win us over; perhaps more so since “Blairite” became a stronger term of abuse on the left than “Tory”. The 2017 model Blair is particularly interested in technology and the rapid pace of change, and his institute has just published a report recommending better regulation for social media, lifelong education for anyone whose job is lost to automation and a government department for digital matters. (Quite a departure for a man “named …read more

Source:: New Statesman

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