Tony Blair forced to deny he's founding new political party but still wants role


The former Prime Minister was speaking at a conference in London where centrist political ideas were discussed. Sir Tony was adamant he was not putting forward a manifesto, telling his audience there were two main political parties in the UK and he did not see that changing.

Labour’s former leader admitted during the conference that Brexit would not be reversed in the near future.

A fierce opponent of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Sir Tony cited Brexit as an example of a policy challenge facing the UK which needed to be tackled.

He said: “The stuff in Northern Ireland is doing us damage.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tabled a Bill in parliament which if successful would allow ministers to unilaterally tear up elements of a Northern Ireland trade deal between the EU and UK.

In remarks made at the Future of Britain conference, Sir Tony said: “This is not a new party but it is about a new politics and the policies which we need to make sure that any agenda we have works and endures for the future.”

He continued: “Britain faces challenges that are unprecedented in recent times. Some, like the technology revolution and achieving Net Zero, we share with other nations. Some, like Brexit, are unique to Britain.

“But with the cost-of-living crisis and the shadow of recession looming, we can’t afford to continue as we are. We need to plan and prepare for a new world.”

Sir Tony was joined at the conference by former Tory MP David Gauke, former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and former International Development minister Rory Stewart.

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In reference to Joe Biden’s victory in the US, he said: “Does that mean the fight is over? No. But it means it is not a hopeless fight.”

Author William Atkinson, assistant editor of website ConservativeHome, criticised the event for misunderstanding the nature of British centrism.

He wrote in the same publication: “Almost certainly, a majority of attendees at this conference will not have voted for Brexit, and a plurality will not have plumped for Boris Johnson in 2019.

“But a majority of the country did – and it is they that this conference is supposed to be about.

“That is why these people are not in power. Blair, Rice, Summers – these are people who dearly want to turn the world back to the turn of the millennium.

“Having them headlining a conference on the future of British politics in 2022 is as absurd as Margaret Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe doing so at an equivalent event in 2002.

“Yet Blair’s irrepressible ego means he is compelled to do so.”

Sir Tony, who has been a persistent critic of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said Sir Keir Starmer had done an “amazing” job to reform the party.

He quipped that he only had to come after former leaders Neil Kinnock and John Smith, whose position at the top of the party was cut short by a fatal heart attack in May 1994.

Sir Tony said: “For Labour to win, it has got to have a policy agenda, that is absolutely clear.”

He went on to mention the Liberal Democrat victory at the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, a former safe Tory seat.

Sir Tony said: “Those people have got to be comfortable with a Labour Government.”

He emphasised that success for Labour would be based on policy and not on arithmetic.



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