An annoying bit player who refuses to go away.
Nothing so annoys an audience as the artless ham who simply won’t get off the stage, trying their patience. Just so former prime minister Tony Blair, as he loiters on the UK political stage, with his incessant need for the spotlight, as put-upon Britons await the needful theatre hook to yank him back to the wings and, with him, his tireless and tiring crusade against Brexit — Britain’s escape from the étatist European Union.
“I think it’s possible now that Brexit doesn’t happen,” Mr. Blair confided to a Sky News interviewer. “I think it’s absolutely necessary that it doesn’t happen because I think every day is bringing us fresh evidence that it’s doing us damage economically, certainly doing us damage politically.”
This pro-EU platform is well-trod by Mr. Blair (once a contender for its presidency), and the Continental project of ever greater integration of its member-states. Britain only escaped the catastrophe of the single currency because Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown insisted that five conditions be met before Britain signed on to the Euro, and internal Labour Party tensions meant that Blair thought twice before crossing his Chancellor.
But the Labour prime minister had no qualms about crossing the electorate. He promised and eventually reneged on giving Britons a voice on a “federated” European constitution, released from his pledge when the plan of an EU super-state failed to pass muster in several other countries. Brussels bureaucrats obfuscated and simply passed the legislation as the Lisbon Treaty, a constitution in all but name. It was Conservative premier David Cameron who ultimately gave the people a choice, which earned him Mr. Blair’s opprobrium for bowing to his Euroskeptic Tories’ demand for democratic accountability. Mr. Blair came out against the 2016 referendum and campaigned for Remain, and has continued to snipe ever since, even threatening to re-enter the political arena at the time of last June’s general election. True to form, as Fleet Street busily reports on Brexit difficulties (real or imagined) with the EU negotiating team, once more our aging pantomime artist slaps on the grease paint and heads out before the Krieg lights.
Mr. Blair is promoting his new “Institute for Global Change,” arguing that “what the progressive centre lacks is a radical policy agenda.” His model is the recent election of President Macron in France. “People will default to populism when a radical centre is not on offer,” he writes. Brexit is in his cross-hairs, arguing that “the election result should enable a fundamental re-appraisal,” that “large numbers of people voted to stop a Hard Brexit and rejected explicitly the mandate Theresa May was demanding.” But rising Conservative star MP Jacob Rees-Mogg easily proves that those parties that offered the “soft” Brexit alternative, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party, were trounced at the polls. Mr. Blair prefers to view events through the rosy lens of his élitist New Labour past. In his world, Brexiteers “have over-estimated, as ever, the weakness of Europe.” (Much as American “deplorables” over-estimated the electoral chances of Donald Trump… wait, hold on a minute…)
Meanwhile, the New York Observer’s London correspondent, Andre Walker, suggests that Mr. Blair is one Briton whose Europhilia is such that he is willing “to act in a treasonous fashion,” being “cheerleader in chief” for a group of MPs “who want to force the British government to disclose its negotiating position,” thus giving “EU negotiators an advantage, guaranteeing a bad deal for Britain.” As if Theresa May didn’t have enough worries with hard Brexit “creationists” battling soft Brexit “sensibles,” often within her own Parliamentary caucus — each group in turn challenging her leadership — let alone the other opposition parties at Westminster. Tony Blair’s one-man sabotage road-show must be the least of the Premier’s headaches.
Nevertheless, Brexit negotiations are rising toward a positive momentum, in fulfillment of the people’s referendum wish to be freed of their EU yoke and to reassume their global presence. “All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare observed; “and all the men and women merely players,” such as ordinary Britons, optimistically reasserting their sovereign liberty. Too bad Tony Blair and EU apologists want to pull the curtain down and end Brexit before its first act has even begun. But Britons have the measure of this political thespian, who has outlived his welcome. The former prime minister is “a walking shadow” and has exhausted “his hour upon the stage.” Brexiteers hope Blair’s anti-Brexit diatribes will soon be “heard no more,” and that they are witnessing the dénouement to his monologue against an independent Britain.
Stephen MacLean maintains the weblog The Organic Tory.