LONDON (Reuters) – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday that Britain was in a mess, warning that neither his own Labour Party nor Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives deserved to win a Dec. 12 election.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks during an interview with Axel Threlfall at a Reuters Newsmaker event on “The challenging state of British politics” in London, Britain, November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Below are excerpts from his speech at the Reuters Newsmaker event:
“Britain is home to a unique political experiment. We are testing – hopefully not to destruction – whether it is possible for a major developed nation to turn its politics into chaos and survive without serious economic and social damage to its essential fabric.
“Populism of all sorts is rampant world-wide. My Institute has outlined the causes elsewhere. But in most cases the populism is focused on a Leader. Leaders are transient. In Britain our populism focused on a policy – Brexit – which may be permanent.
“In June 2016, we were a reasonably successful and influential power, our economy the fastest growing in the G7, London possibly the premier financial centre of the globe, our technology sector the strongest in Europe, our society riven with inequalities and unacceptable levels of poverty due to austerity post the financial crisis; but nonetheless a country able to ease itself out of austerity and repair its social cohesion should it choose to.
“Fast forward to today and we’re a mess. The buoyancy of the world economy has kept us going up to now, but should that falter, we will be in deep trouble.
“Our politics is utterly dysfunctional… If Brexit is blocked in Parliament,