Tony Blair says Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are 'peddling fantasies' as election looms

Posted On: 
25th November 2019

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are "peddling two sets of fantasies" ahead of the 12 December election, according to Tony Blair.

Mr Blair will say the election is being defined by "unprecedented volatility and indecision".
Credit: 
PA

In his first major intervention of the election campaign, the former Prime Minister will hit out at the Conservatives for claiming Brexit "will be over" if they are handed a majority.

And the ex-Labour leader will take aim at Mr Corbyn for promising "revolution" - and warn that the chances of a Labour victory are now "negligible".

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Speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event on Monday, Mr Blair will tear into both the Conservatives and Labour for their election pitch to the country.

"The Conservatives calculate that they can force people to elect them, despite worry over Brexit, because Jeremy Corbyn is the alternative," he will say.

"The Labour Party leadership calculate they can combine traditional Labour support around issues like the NHS, with Remain voters who hate Brexit, despite fear about the Labour Leader.

"In other words, both parties want to win on the basis that whatever your dislike of what they're offering, the alternative is worse."

The ex-PM will argue that this leaves voters facing "unprecedented volatility and indecision" - with many now "scratching their heads, changing their minds, floating and unsure".

Criticising the Conservative campaign pledge to 'Get Brexit Done', Mr Blair will say: "The cheek is quite breath-taking.

"So, having visited this debacle upon us, which has distracted us from those big issues for over three years, they now use the distraction as a reason for doing Brexit, not abandoning it."

He will warn: "Brexit isn't over on 12 December, nor even on 31 January next year. We immediately begin the new phase of Brexit negotiation.

"Only this time, we are negotiating the future relationship of Britain with Europe, not simply the Irish border question, and without the leverage which comes from still being a member of the EU, since, legally, we will have left the Union and are in the transition period supposed to last up to the end of 2020."

'NEGLIGIBLE'

Mr Blair will meanwhile renew his warnings about a no-deal Brexit, likening such an outcome after the EU transition period expires to throwing the UK economy "off a cliff" while "hoping it finds a parachute on the way down".

"It is a risk no responsible leader would take. Yet we may be about to empower a Leader – Boris Johnson – to take such a risk," Mr Blair will say.

Turning to Labour, the ex-PM is expected to say: "The Labour Party manifesto is heralded by its leadership as the most radical ever.

"This is true. It promises a revolution; and if implemented it would indeed amount to one.

"The problem with revolutions is never how they begin but how they end."

The former Prime Minister has been a frequent critic of Labour's direction since Mr Corbyn became leader in 2015.

But Mr Blair will make clear he is continuing to campaign for the party in a bid to shore up "independent minded MPs".

He will say: "We should look at this election seat by seat. There is one general election but 650 mini elections and each one matters.

"There are good, solid mainstream, independent minded MPs and candidates in both parties.

"I have been campaigning for those in the Labour Party because I know Parliament will be poorer without them."

And he will warn voters against backing the Tories even as Labour struggles in the polls.

"The polls predict a Conservative victory and put the chances of an outright Labour victory as negligible," Mr Blair will say.

"But I wouldn't trust Boris Johnson with a blank cheque."