Former British PM Tony Blair Presses For a More Integrated EU

Tony Blair has urged European Union members to move closer together and form common policies on areas such as energy, defence, immigration and crime.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

The former UK prime minister said in an interview with The Times that he wanted to see the “completion of the single market” as well as an elected EU president, although such a role had “no chance of being accepted at the present time”.

Mr Blair said: “The rationale for Europe now is power, not peace.”

His words serve as a rallying cry for European integrationists shaken by the eurozone crisis. But they also reflect his failure to join up the UK to the single currency and to become EU president two years ago.

Mr Blair also gave his tacit approval to much of what the UK’s coalition government is trying to do on domestic policy, acknowledging that it would be “bizarre” for him to disagree when many of the reforms in areas such as health and education were a continuation of his own.

He urged Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour leader, to ignore the “Blue Labour” movement being advocated by some of his closest advisers, who prescribe a return to communitarianism and a rejection of free market economics.

Mr Blair said: “The attraction of a concept like Blue Labour is it allows you to say that there’s a group of voters out there we can’t reach at the moment, so what we should do is really empathize with their plight. But I think you should always offer a way forward for the future.”

“The way the Labour party wins, is if it’s at the cutting edge of the future, if it’s modernizing. It won’t win by a Labour equivalent of warm beer and old maids bicycling,” he added.

Although Mr Blair shied away from criticizing Mr Miliband, he also declined to answer whether he favoured David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, over the Labour leader.