He can try to wade in, but Tony Blair has nothing to add to the Brexit debate

Christian May
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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair Returns To His Old Constituency
Tony Blair has been trying to intervene on the departure from the EU (Source: Getty)

Former Prime Ministers form a small club, yet a diverse one.

For some, reputations improve with the passing of time. Sir John Major is a fine example. Despite great electoral success, the dying days of his government fuelled the rise of New Labour’s appeal, and he left office as a representative of the past.

Yet in recent years, he made his public interventions count by making so few of them. True, he stepped up a gear during the EU referendum campaign, but somehow he still managed to speak with an air of experience and authority.

Gordon Brown rehabilitated his reputation during the Scottish independence referendum, injecting some much-needed passion into the Better Together campaign. He will be remembered more for that than for his current efforts as the UN’s special envoy for global education.

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David Cameron continues to champion charitable causes that he promoted as Prime Minister, notably on Alzheimer’s. He has picked up a couple of business interests, but is also staying close to the machinery of the state, chairing a new government-supported fund to develop transport links with China as its Belt and Road initiative steams ahead in a bid to shape global trade.

As for Tony Blair, the majority of his post-Downing Street years have been devoted to making money, often with scant regard for public perception. One lucrative line has been in offering PR advice to unsavoury leaders from Guinea to Kazakhstan.

His own reputation has deteriorated since leaving Number 10 to such an extent that he seems to have thought “sod it – in for a penny, in for a pound” and is now spearheading efforts to undermine British democracy.

Read more: Theresa May: Brexit won't be "derailed"

Asked by the BBC over the weekend if his purpose now was to reverse Brexit, Blair replied: “Yes, exactly so.” Brexit remains contentious, and as last week’s vote in parliament confirmed, the path towards it is not set in stone. But the destination should be. MPs have a duty to shape and guide the nation’s journey towards Brexit, including its future relationship with the EU.

There is no such requirement for Blair to seek an uninvited return to public life by injecting the debate with his particular blend of arrogance and paternalism.

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