Former British prime minister Tony Blair has announced his plan to “get his hands dirty” with domestic politics again, 20 years after beating John Major to enter Downing Street.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper published on Monday, Blair said he is returning to politics in order to fight against the UK leaving the European Union (EU).
Blair led the Labour Party to a landslide victory on May 1, 1997 – two decades ago today -- ending its 18 years in opposition and winning 418 seats, the most the party has ever held. He led Labour from 1994 to 2007.
Blair said he will not be standing in the June general elections, but added that he wanted to launch a political movement to formulate the policy debate as Britain begins its two-year-long complex negotiations to leave the EU.
The 63-year-old, whose ten-year tenure as the British PM was marred by his controversial decision to join the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, admitted that he would face intense criticism for returning to politics.
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"This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics," he told the newspaper. “You need to get your hands dirty and I will.”
"I know the moment I stick my head out the door I'll get a bucket of wotsit poured all over me, but I really do feel passionate about this,” he added.
"I don't want to be in the situation where we pass through this moment of history and I hadn't said anything because that would mean I didn't care about this country. I do,” he argued. "I am not sure I can turn something into a political movement but I think there is a body of ideas out there people would support.”
In a surprise move on April 18, Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election in order to bolster her position before going into two years of negotiations with the EU about Britain’s departure from the bloc.
The election will be held on June 8, nearly a year after 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU). The current parliament will dissolve on June 3.
Blair has said May is positioned to win the general elections, citing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s poor polling numbers.
Last week, Blair called on registered Labour voters to break ranks and vote Tory or Liberal Democrat in the upcoming election.
Blair said the issue of getting more members of parliament who could oppose May’s possible hard Brexit deal was now “bigger than party allegiance.”
In March 2003, Blair joined forces with then-US President George W. Bush in invading Iraq. The two countries attacked Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding WMDs; but no such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.
More than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the US-led invasion, and the subsequent occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.
The US war in Iraq cost American taxpayers $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, according to a study called Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.