Tony Blair on Brexit

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joins the program to discuss the chaotic state of affairs in the UK, where Britain still does not have an exit agreement with the European Union, less than 70 days before it leaves.

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TONY BLAIR: Is the underlying causes of Brexit, the immigration issue, anxiety about cultural and national identity, these are underlying issues everywhere in Europe today. I mean, the last 30 months hasn’t just turned British politics on its head. You look around Europe, and you know this, Christiane, very well from the analysis, you’re do in the interviews you do with people in Europe. I mean, the truth is, the whole of European politics is convulsed at the moment. And that’s why the sensible thing, in my view, is for Britain to think again but Europe also to think again, to realize that it is going to have to come to a different type of settlement around issues to do with migration and identity and that it’s going to have to recognize that in the future those countries that are part of the Euro Zone are going to integrate in a different way and in a bigger way than those countries outside it. And so, what I’ve really been discussing with the European leaders is, you know, it’s our business to build the support but going back to the people, which should we do so, you know, you guys should think carefully also about what you can say that helps the process of Europe staying together. And, you know, staying together is important for Europe as well. Britain coming out of Europe is not just bad Britain. It’s very bad for Europe as well.

AMANPOUR: Again, I’m assuming you’re putting that case to the European leaders you meet there right now. But let me ask you finally, it’s our final question, about the point of Davos all these years later. You know very well that Davos is considered the sort of hobnobbing of the elite, the very people who through so many millions of people around the world into the calamity that they find themselves in now and led to the rise of populism. Let me just play this little soundbite from a guy whose kind of gone viral right now, Anand Giridharadas, who’s just just written this book, you know, “Winner Takes All,” the charade of the global elites. Look what he just told me.


ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AUTHOR, “WINNER TAKES ALL”: I think Davos should end. I think it should be canceled this year and should end going forward. It is a family reunion for the people who, in my view, broke the modern world.


AMANPOUR: I mean, you can argue with that, right?

BLAIR: I can. Look, it’s the easiest line in the world to make, by the way. You know, there — I’ll tell you what I do when I come to Davos. So, later today, I’ll be meeting three of my presidents from Africa and I know that they broke the economic system. I’ll be meeting a whole lot of people from multilateral institutions who work in the developing world. I’m here because my institute, which are not for profit institute, works in some of the poorest parts of the world trying to help them. And, you know, to be fair, the people who come here, they’re discussing serious issues. So, it’s easiest play in the world to say, “Oh, you know, all these people are coming along here, the global elite and so on.” And by the way, you know, these arguments about cultural identity and nationalism, in my experience, you got elites on either side of the argument.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; National President of the Federation of Government Employees J. David Cox Sr.; and former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney. Alicia Menendez speaks with Claire Lehmann about pushing the boundaries of acceptable discourse.