Leader comment: Blair's indyref2 intervention is nonsensical

The former prime minister is just making trouble for Labour both north and south of the Border by his nonsensical indyref2 intervention.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair during his speech on Brexit at an Open Britain event in central London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair during his speech on Brexit at an Open Britain event in central London. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Tony Blair became the Labour party’s youngest leader and he did a stellar job for them. In May 1997, from what had been a party seemingly in terminal decline, he led them to a landslide general election victory, the largest in its history,

He went on to lead it to two more, another landslide victory in 2001, and a victory in 2005, with a reduced majority.

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There are many achievements during his premiership, but perhaps the greatest was the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

But all that counts for nothing.

His decision to lead Britain in to war against Saddam Hussein, because the Americans wanted to, is what he will be remembered for. There are some who might think that unfair, that one bad decision should not cancel out an entire career.

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Tony Blair: Scottish independence case '˜much more credible'

But last year Sir John Chilcot, who chaired the Iraq inquiry, delivered the most excoriating verdict on any prime minster.

He said Blair had overstated the threat posed by Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had “wholly inadequate” plans for the aftermath. Invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public.

And yet the arrogant Blair refuses to depart the scene, and continues to chuck in his tuppence worth regardless of how little sense he makes.

So the Labour party, a party without its troubles to seek and certainly not in need of further division, must be reeling from Blair’s intervention on the matter of Brexit.

Suddenly key planks of policy both north and south of the Border are questioned by the former leader. It is almost as if he set out to cause as much mischief as he could.

For the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, who has recently expended much energy underlining the case for opposing independence, calling for a “new Act of Union” in a bid to save the UK and for a federal solution to be found, suddenly Mr Blair is completely undermining that position.

He has said the context for the pro-Scottish independence case is “much more credible” after it had been “put back on the table” by the Brexit vote.

That of course is exactly First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s view.

However, luckily for Kezia, he then went on to deliver his verdict on Brexit overall and made such a confusing and contradictory argument that any chance of it being taken as a sensible position disappeared entirely.

Completely contrary to Jeremy Corbyn’s principled stance that the democracy of the referendum result has to be respected, Blair said it was his “mission” to persuade Britons to “rise up” and change their minds on leaving the EU. He went on to admit that there was “no widespread appetite” for the referendum result to be reversed, but added that he wanted to “build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge”.

Mr Blair’s intervention is nonsensical, but will still do some damage to the party he used to lead. He should really understand that his time has been, and he should stop being the ghost at the feast.