Fresh from his rousing anti-Brexit speech, Tony Blair has launched a new institute for centre-ground policy based on globalisation and liberal democracy with the warning: "we could be living through a populist moment; but we could be living at the start of a populist era."
Renewing the Centre will be directed by Yascha Mounk, a German-born Harvard academic, and will receive an initial £10m investment from Blair's foundation.
Designed to create policies equipped to deal with the anxieties surrounding globalisation, it is likely to be compared to other liberal pro-European organisations such as Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche, which also maintains it is not a political party.
A statement on Blair’s Institute for Global Change website describes the new centre as a safeguard against political extremes:
"The Conservative Party in the UK is now the party of Hard Brexit. The leadership of the Labour Party has been captured by the Hard Left."
"I am convinced that only by Renewing the Centre can we provide a compelling alternative."
Blair, the only leader in the Labour Party's history to win three consecutive elections, has been a controversial critic of Britain's vote to leave the European Union. He said in the statement that he is aware “some will be unable to move beyond their views about [him] as the founder of [the institution]”.
Some will regard the new institute overseeing Renewing the Centre as an exercise in rebranding – Blair has already changed his social media pages to "Tony Blair Institute for Global Change".
The institute will bring 200 existing staff under one roof "literally and legally" and merge programmes such as the Africa Governance Initiative, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Initiative for the Middle East.