Blair returns to politics to 'get hands dirty' again

Blair returns to politics to 'get hands dirty' again
3 min read
01 May, 2017
The former British prime minister says he will 'get his hands dirty' in a bid to fight against Britain's exit from the European Union.
Tony Blair is remembered by many for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 [Getty]

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has confirmed that he will return to British politics in an attempt to fight the UK's exit from the European Union.

Blair, who is still dogged by accusations of war crimes related to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said that Prime Minister Theresa May's 'hard Brexit' stance had motivated him to get involved.

"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 told the Mirror in an interview that marked two decades since his landslide election victory in 1997.

"I am going to be taking an active part in trying to shape the policy debate and that means getting out and reconnecting."

The former PM warned that Britain is "relegating" itself by trying to move from the European single market to a free trade agreement.

A welcome return?

The 63-year-old, who served as prime minister from 1997 to 2007, recognised that many in Britain may not welcome his comeback.

"I know the moment I stick my head out the door I'll get a bucket of wotsit poured all over me, but I really do feel passionate about this," Blair added.

"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."

Despite recognising his unpopularity, he continued to defend his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 and seemed to justify it by pointing to the current crisis in Syria.

"If you look at what Assad has done in Syria or the guy in North Korea I personally believe we would be in same position if we had left Saddam there. That’s my view other people can take a different view," he said.

Underestimating Iraq

While many observers would contend that Blair's most damning legacy is the Iraq War and the country's current instability, the former PM insisted that it was his brand of centrist politics that have drawn him the harshest criticism.

"A lot of the attacks on me are because I am the representative of that type of centre left politics," Blair said.

"People on the right are desperate never to have my politics come back to the Labour Party because they know it can end in a Tory defeat."

Blair's announcement follows his refusal last week to back current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was one of the Iraq War's fiercest critics from within the centre-left party.

Corbyn, a veteran leftwinger who served in Labour's backbenches during Blair's time as PM, made a formal apology for the Iraq War in 2016 on behalf of his party following the release of the Chilcot report.