It’s no secret that Tony Blair and John Major are two of the most Europhile prime ministers this country has ever elected. I have no doubt that they are bitter about the impact of Brexit. Nonetheless, given that neither of their political careers ended spectacularly, this talk of a second referendum is more than just words; it’s an opportunity for both of them to be awarded with a second chance in politics.
Both of them are acting in a sinister way and this behaviour is typical of the sort of politicians people resent. Neither of them have expressed an interest in returning to the forefront of British politics prior to Brexit.
Major has enjoyed attending cricket matches and appearing at after dinner speeches for numerous Conservative associations. Blair has made millions and worked as a Middle East Peace Envoy, but someone should’ve sacked him as the situation there has deteriorated since he was appointed in 2007. Considering the latter once led a centre-left party, he only adds cynicism to the term ‘champagne socialist’ when one observes how much wealth he has accumulated since he retired as an MP. The former Labour prime minister is now considered to be one of the richest people in Britain.
They’ve both done exceptionally well since they left the political limelight and hats off to both of them in that respect. Yet when you observe their political careers, neither of them ended brilliantly. It seems like they have both fished out an opportunity to re-emerge as Britain’s saviours, rescuing this country from a ‘terrible and profound decision that the average Joe Bloggs failed to comprehend at the ballot box.’
There’s a lot Major needs to compensate for. When he was ousted out of power in 1997, the Conservative Party had been reduced to 165 seats, a result worse than the 175 seats Wellington’s Tory Party retained in 1832. His decision to withdraw from the European Rate Mechanism in September 1992 may have been correct in the long-term, but the short-term recession it caused shattered the Tory government’s reputation for economic competence, and they lost their trump card over Labour. His government stank of sleaze (does Neil Hamilton ring any bells?). Combined with the disastrous decision to sign the Maastricht Treaty, he engulfed Conservative MPs in a civil war that resulted in Cameron issuing the EU Referendum this year just to end that conflict, or so he hoped.
And then there’s Blair. The man did so much damage to his career and this country that it’s difficult to conclude what his worst mistake in office was. Was it allowing Brown to expand the Treasury’s powers, destroy our regulatory system and borrow reckless amounts of money? Or breaking his promises to hold a referendum on the Euro and the EU Constitution? Perhaps it could be the Iraq War? It’s a tough one. Before Brexit, the former Labour leader relentlessly criticised Miliband and Corbyn. He’s been fishing for this chance for a while.
It’s obvious he has discovered it now. After Major integrated us into the European Union, Blair took that further. He signed the Nice and Amsterdam treaties and the European Social Charter. He would have forced Britain to join the Euro too. Considering both prime ministers vested a significant amount of political capital into ensuring that Britain was central to the European project, both men must feel that their efforts to craft Britain’s place in the EU have been wasted.
But their pleas for a second referendum are about more than principle. Their plans to create an anti-Brexit party is about them. It’s a distraction to mask their true intentions. They claim to speak for the “48%”, but considerable numbers of Remain voters have accepted the result. So who do they speak for? Themselves.
Don’t be fooled by Major and Blair again. They never provided us an opportunity to have a referendum on any treaty they signed or the Euro. Now they have both fallen in love with the concept of referendums. Is that due to hindsight? No. It’s because they have been landed with a result so grotesque to both of them that history will re-evaluate the EU policies that both of their governments pursued.
The last thing politics needs is the men of yesterday manipulating, albeit destroying, our country’s future. This is about their second chance to shine. Nothing more, nothing less.