Boris Johnson would beat Jeremy Corbyn in an election, Tony Blair warns

Posted On: 
1st April 2019

Boris Johnson would defeat Jeremy Corbyn at the next election unless the Labour leader moves away from "left-wing populism", Tony Blair has declared.

The Labour former prime minister said Mr Johnson was a 'formidable' campaigner and called for Labour to offer a 'sensible' alternative.
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The former Labour Prime Minister urged Mr Corbyn - who on Monday said his party was "ready for a general election, whenever it comes" - to ditch "revolutionary" policies or risk defeat at the hands of the Tory leadership favourite.

But he said Conservative MPs would have to be "certifiable" to want to take the country to the polls amid ongoing speculation of a snap election.

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Speaking to HuffPost UK, Mr Blair said: "If you have a Boris Johnson-led Conservative Party, he’s a formidable campaigner, he’s an interesting personality, he can get out there and do his stuff, for sure.

"But you’ve got to be in the position as a Labour party, where you’re offering a sensible, coherent alternative that is different and progressive."

And he warned: "I have absolutely no doubt that if you have a right-wing populism against a left-wing populism in this country, the right-wing will win. So it depends where we [Labour] stand.

"If we stand in a reasonable position, where you have many Conservative voters voters that will feel repelled by a Boris Johnson premiership, particularly after the part he’s played in Brexit, but you’ve got to be in a position where those people feel it’s safe to vote for you.

"You suddenly offer them a revolutionary alternative from the Left, what makes you think the people who voted Tory are suddenly going to go for that? It’s a bizarre analysis of their psyche."

CORBYN: WE'RE READY TO REMOVE INCOMPETENT TORIES

But Mr Corbyn told the Mirror that Labour was now geared up for a ballot box battle with the Tories - and declared his party ready to head a government "for the many, not the few".

“We’re ready for a general election, whenever it comes. Labour has an alternative Brexit plan and we are ready to deliver it," he said.

The Labour leader added: "A general election would give us the chance to remove this incompetent and failed Tory government.

"Whether people voted Leave or Remain, they face problems of falling living standards, rising job insecurity and cuts to essential services across the country. Labour will bring people together."

According to the Mirror, Mr Corbyn could push for a fresh Commons vote of confidence in Mrs May as early as this week in a bid to force an election.

The last attempt ran aground after being MPs voted by 325 to 306 to retain confidence on the embattled Prime Minister.

BLAIR: BOTH PARTIES FACE RECKONING

The latest intervention from Mr Blair, a longstanding critic of the current Labour leader, comes amid reports of a bitter battle in Downing Street over whether to call an election to try and break the ongoing Brexit deadlock.

As a poll handed Labour a five point lead over the Conservatives, the Tories' vice-chair James Cleverly denied full-scale election planning was underway at party HQ.

But he admitted "sensible and pragmatic" preparations had been taking place for a snap poll.

Mr Blair told HuffPost UK that he believed Tory MPs would be "mad" to want an election amid the turmoil over Brexit.

“I know this is today’s politics and everything’s a little mad but you would have to be certifiable as a Conservative MP to want a general election in circumstances where you would be fighting it under the shadow of Brexit," he said.

But the ex-Prime Minister, who won three elections between 1997 and 2005, warned that both major parties risked being punished at the ballot box over the way Brexit has been handled.

"I honestly think you will find at next general election, whenever that comes, I’m not sure the form this will take but I think people are going to want to sweep away those who are responsible for this," he said.

"I really think there will be an enormous reckoning and retribution."