New Yorker magazine publishes fawning interview with Tony Blair
In a wide-ranging and fawning interview with the US media, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair concedes his return to frontline politics to challenge Brexit may not be welcomed by the British public.
From the outset, interviewer Sam Knight, a Guardian and New Yorker contributor, is gushing about his first encounter with Blair at the former PM’s Grosvenor HQ in London.
Despite being widely regarded as a hate figure in the UK, largely due to the Iraq War, Tony Blair remains a popular figure in the US.
Even at the height of Blair’s unpopularity in the UK towards the end of his time as PM, a joint USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll indicated that Americans still viewed him favorably.
“It is an uncanny thing for British liberals to behold, this return of Blair. You think you are over someone, and then, here he is,” writes Knight, describing Blair’s voice as an “ultimate classless artefact.”
Asked about the state of UK politics, Blair says Tory Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit gamble and the left-wing politics of serving Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn will leave “millions politically homeless.”
He blamed Brexit on the failure of the political class to offer real leadership.
“The established political class has been so battered, it feels it has to follow political opinion and not lead it,” he told Knight. “Challenging the public is almost something improper.”
On the hot topic of immigration, Blair said his policy of introducing ID cards, which was voted down during his time in office, still has value.
“The answer to that is not to stop immigration,” he argued. “The answer is to make sure there are rules.”
While the article barely touched on Iraq, and no question appears to have been asked about the calamitous decision to go to war, the former PM conceded his return to politics might upset people.
“I am probably not the right person to be saying these things. OK, let someone else say them. But they’re not,” he said.
“Sincerity was Blair’s genius, and we have not forgiven him for it,” the journalist summarizes.