Tony Blair


Tony Blair won three general elections for Labour in 1997, 2001, and 2005, before resigning to make way for his chancellor Gordon Brown. His time at prime minister brought the United Kingdom back into a more productive relationship with the European Union. Blair opted into the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty from which his Conservative predecessor John Major had won an opt out. He was supportive of joining the single currency, but Brown was very resistant and the United Kingdom never entered the Eurozone. As the single currency developed that kept the United Kingdom at a certain distance from the European Union, especially when it was granted a permanent opt out from ever joining the euro to encourage parliament to approve the Lisbon Treaty of 2007.

The peace process that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement had been launched by Major, but was brought to completion by Blair. In addition he offered the referendums that brought in the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament. His role in setting up devolved power in the Celtic Fringe led directly to the situation where Scotland and Northern Ireland could make political capital from their countries voting to remain in the European Union. He was also responsible for joint sovereignty of Gibraltar being negotiated with Spain, although the Gibraltar electorate rejected that in an unofficial referendum and the negotiations were halted. Blairís main contribution to the referendum remain campaign was his joint appearance in Londonderry with Major, where they both declared that voting leave would put the peace process at risk. The Northern Irish largely ignored them, as the Northern Irish tend to do with English politicians telling them what to do. The remain vote in Northern Ireland had very little to do with Blairís alarmist speech, but was more concerned with freedom of movement across the border, with all majority leave voting areas being in the north east corner far from the border.

The suspicion is that Blairís campaign activity was driven by a personal agenda to seize the initiative in advance of the Chilcot Report into his decision to take the United Kingdom into a war against Iraq. This was particularly the case when he supported the post referendum coup against current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Chilcot Report was damning of Blairís sofa style government, in which he favoured personal advisers over cabinet colleagues. He is not likely to have much impact on the move towards exiting the European Union as his support will be politically toxic.

© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved