Tony Blair warns of populist uprisings & collapse of EU if Muslim immigration not addressed
More countries could break away from the EU in a wave of populist revolts, says Tony Blair. The former UK PM has called on EU countries to “seize the moment” and to deal with underlying Muslim migration issues.
Blair told German newspaper Die Welt that the same migration concerns that sparked Brexit aren’t issues faced solely by the UK, and other EU countries could face backlashes down the line.
“Let’s be clear: the anxieties of the British people that led to Brexit are not confined to Britain,” he said.
“With strong leadership we would seize the moment of Brexit also to deal with those underlying issues which are not only the preoccupation of the British people but are the preoccupation right across Europe. Because otherwise, this populism will get fueled.”
Blair made a clear distinction between EU migration - a problem that he believes is only an issue in certain areas of the UK - and non-EU migration. He said tensions occur from non-EU migration “when people aren’t sure the people coming are sharing our values” - particularly from majority-Muslim countries.
Blair believes this is already an issue in Holland, Denmark and Sweden.
At the end of December, Blair’s think tank, the Institute for Global Change, released a report warning of a populist uprising in Europe as voters become frustrated with European immigration issues.
Last January, the former Labour leader poured a whopping £10 million of his funds into the Tony Blair Institute, another step in forwarding his anti-populist crusade.
On Thursday, Blair took to his ‘Institute for Global Change’ website to hit out at serving UK Prime Minister Theresa May, calling her handling of Brexit negotiations “farcical” and accusing Labour of having a timid political approach to the issue.
Blair has also called for a second referendum, once the details of the Brexit agreement have been thrashed out, so the people of the United Kingdom can have a say on whether they still want to leave the EU or not.
“When we voted in 2016, we knew we were voting against our present membership of the European Union, but not what the future relationship with Europe would be,” he said.
“Once we know the alternative, we should be entitled to think again, either through Parliament or an election or through a fresh referendum, which will, of course, not be a rerun of the first because it will involve this time a choice based on knowledge of the alternative to existing EU membership.”
What Blair skirts around is the hypocrisy of his own nativism. He glosses over the fact that the war in Iraq sparked an influx of illegal immigrants and migrants in the UK – a war in which his facilitating the invasion of the Middle Eastern nation saw him accused of war crimes in the years to follow.
In 2007, as Blair prepared to depart from Downing Street, seasoned newspaper editor and accomplished historian Max Hastings rebuked the then-PM in a scathing opinion piece dripping with both contempt and sarcasm.
“Some might forgive Tony Blair for the catastrophe of Iraq, but will never forgive his abject failure to control immigration,” the former Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard editor wrote in the Daily Mail.
“According to official figures – and these, of course, ignore the countless numbers of illegal immigrants – the population of Britain grew by 185,000 in 2005 because of immigration, a trend which means well over a million a decade.
“Many of the new arrivals not only do not speak our language, but actively reject our values and way of life.”
Hastings blamed not only the Iraq war, but public services made too easily accessible (in his eyes at least).
“They want to come because Britain is famously the softest touch in the world for access, public money and housing,” Hastings added. “Nobody need agree to anything, least of all loyalty to Queen and country, before being waved through the door.”
When Blair’s ten-year prime ministerial reign drew to a close in 2007, his reputation was left in tatters - an opinion poll at the time showed that a mere 11 percent of voters still liked him and 51 percent thought that “he manages to convince himself that whatever he has decided to do must be morally right.”
The latter opinion was supported by the Chilcot Enquiry into the war in Iraq, wherein Sir John Chilcot found that the invasion was unnecessary. The enquiry also found that Blair was not “straight with the nation,” and used bogus intelligence that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as his pretext to invade.
A 2009 academic study revealed that about half a million people died in Iraq of war-related causes between 2003 and mid-2011. According to the MIT Centre for International Studies, up to five million Iraqi people were displaced or became refugees.