Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday said he was planning to return to politics and fight the country’s decision to exit the European Union. However, Blair said he would not stand for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming elections, but would try to “influence” the debate surrounding Brexit.
“This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics…You need to get your hands dirty and I will,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mirror. Blair was speaking on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his victory over John Major during the 1997 general elections.
The 63-year-old warned that there were some Conservative leaders who wanted to deliver Brexit “no matter at what the cost”. “The [European] single market put us in the Champions League of agreements. A free trade agreement is like League One,” he said in the interview. “We are relegating ourselves.”
Blair said his desire to return to politics was not only motivated by Brexit, but also by issues such as immigration, economic stress, and worries over the quality of jobs. “I don’t want to be in the situation where we pass through this moment of history and I hadn’t said anything, because that would mean I didn’t care about this country. I do,” he said.
Blair had served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2007. His decision to allow the British Armed Forces to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq had drawn immense criticism. The war had killed as many as 179 British personnel and thousands of Iraqis.
However, Blair remains unrepentant of it. “A lot of these people on the right wing who were attacking people were people who would be attacking me if I hadn’t done Iraq,” he said, adding that if Saddam Hussein had not been ousted, then Iraq would have posed the “same danger” as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Mirror reported.
The general elections in the United Kingdom is scheduled for June 8. Opinion polls have placed Conservatives ahead of the Labour party.