Tony Blair made a speech last week regarding the EU referendum, in which he made a number of very good points. He pointed out that the EU referendum process was flawed, it was set up by Cameron to settle an internal matter within the Tory party, he never considered the consequences of losing. People did not know what they were voting for and to push forward with a hard brexit on such a narrow margin (and less than 37% of those who voted) is not democracy, its a perversion of democracy.
However there’s a problem with this message – Tony Blair. One can scarcely think of a worse person to lead any sort of resistance to brexit that Tony. He’s still dogged by the legacy of the Iraq war. Now to be fair many of the same Tories who are attacking him over this EU speech are the very same people who also voted for the Iraq war. Only two conservative MP’s voted against it, against 84 members of his own party. Given how the Tories are throwing themselves at Trump one has little doubt that a Tory PM would have also backed an Iraq war. The only difference would have been they’d have likely committed to unilateral action without the UN, as the White House had been calling for.
But even so the Iraq war casts a long shadow over Tony Blair and his legacy. Case in point, the Daily Mail accused Tony Blair of giving £1 million to a Gitmo detainee who recently blew himself up in Iraq. Naturally he pointed out the hypocrisy of the fact that the Daily Mail had publicly backed a campaign to get this man freed. And that it had been during the coalition government (i.e. with the Tories in charge) that he’d been paid compensation.
In another example Jeremy Corbyn tried to blame the loss of a byelection on Tony Blair. Normally winning by elections for a opposition candidate is like shooting fish in a barrel. But Corbyn simply can’t defend seats, nevermind take them off the Tories. So its a bit rich him blaming “disunity” within the party when he, not Tony, is the main source of this discord. However, it again shows the problems with relying on Tony Blair to be the standard barer for anything.
So if there’s to be opposition to brexit, while Tony Blair’s welcome to express his views, we need someone else to lead it.