World Politics

'America First' or 'America Alone?': The US should decide, ex-UK leader Tony Blair says

Key Points
  • The U.S. needs to look at where it stands in relation to its allies like Europe, the U.K.'s former prime minister told CNBC Tuesday, saying there are concerns over whether the country is putting itself first, or in isolation.
  • "The worry all the time, I think not just in Europe but outside — is where does the U.S. stand in this slightly difficult space between 'America First' and 'America Alone'?," Tony Blair, the U.K. prime minister from 1997 to 2007, told CNBC Tuesday.
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair speaks during the Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal on November 7, 2018. ( Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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The U.S. needs to look at where it stands in relation to its allies like Europe, the U.K.'s former prime minister told CNBC Tuesday, saying there are concerns over whether the country is putting itself first, or in isolation.

"The worry all the time, I think not just in Europe but outside — is where does the U.S. stand in this slightly difficult space between 'America First' and 'America Alone'?," Tony Blair, the U.K. prime minister from 1997 to 2007, told CNBC Tuesday.

"One of the things that will be very necessary once we get our (U.K.) election out of the way, and once we get Brexit resolved, is that we look at how we revive that transatlantic alliance because it's hugely important."

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Blair said the rise of non-Western powers like China in the 21st century made a strong alliance between the U.S. and Europe even more of a necessity. "It needs allies who believe in the same democratic systems to stay together," he told CNBC's Wilfred Frost in London.

Trump's presidency has been characterized by his"America First" approach to the economy, trade and geopolitics. Trump's supporters say he has focused the government's energy where it really matters –such as the domestic economy and jobs for U.S. workers rather than U.S. foreign policy – but his detractors say that Trump is leading America to lose its place as leader of the free world.

'Weird' politics

While the U.S. president is facing an impeachment inquiry and a trade war with China continues to be unresolved, in the U.K., Brexit continues to divide the public and the Parliament.

Commenting on the U.K.'s EU departure and other global politics currently, Blair observed that "everyone's politics is weird right now."

"Whenever you go anywhere in the world and leaders start talking to each other you get into a competition as to whose politics is crazier — I always say to people that I think we're (the U.K.) is ahead, a lot of people are competing to catch up with us."

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Blair is a well-known anti-Brexit voice and said Tuesday that he "disagrees with (U.K. Prime Minister) Boris Johnson passionately about Brexit." He said the U.K. election coming in December, which could see Johnson regain a majority for the Conservative Party if voter polls are correct, could see the combined vote for anti-Brexit parties totaling more than the pro-Brexit votes retained by the Conservative Party.

Eyebrows have been raised over President Donald Trump's championing of Johnson, both in the Conservative Party leadership race in the summer, and now ahead of the snap election.

Meanwhile, Trump has publicly criticized Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the main opposition Labour party that Blair used to lead — although the former leader noted that being opposed by Trump might not be such a bad thing. He alluded to the fact that it might sway the opinions of voters who are not Trump fans.

"I should imagine Jeremy Corbyn was probably pleased because if you're looking at this from a Labour party perspective or anti-Conservative Party perspective, Donald Trump is quite a divisive figure here as well as back in the U.S. and his attack on Jeremy Corbyn won't trouble Jeremy Corbyn too much."