Poisoned chalice? Blair backs Miliband on business, but not everyone in Labour wants his support

Former Labour leader warns that Tories’ EU policy is risk to business

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has hit out at the Conservative party’s pledge to hold an in/out referendum on the EU in 2017, saying a so-called Brexit would risk jobs and investment.

Speaking at his old Sedgefield constituency in County Durham today, Blair will say that Labour leader Ed Miliband has shown “real leadership on the EU”, and that a referendum would equal “chaos” for Britain.

“The Tory campaign talks of chaos should Labour win. Think of the chaos produced by the possibility, never mind the reality, of Britain quitting Europe,” Blair will say.

“There would be significant business uncertainty in the run-up to the vote but should the vote go the way of exit then there would be the most intense period of business anxiety… and instability since the war.”

Dystopia

But not everyone in Labour is delighted at Blair’s intervention. According to the Telegraph, Miliband’s chief policy advisor, Jon Cruddas said to party supporters that Blair’s ideas in later years were “rubbish” and “soulless”, characterised by “dystopian sink or swim” politics.

As Blair’s supportive speech gets underway today, the row threatens to undermine unity within Labour and the clout of the former PM’s message.

According to the Telegraph, during a launch for his latest book, Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics, Cruddas said of Blair: “His 1994, ‘95, ‘96 speeches ended up in 2004, 2005 with a dystopian sink or swim world view. It is that journey in those eight years – that’s the loss.

“So the question is to learn and appropriate the positive elements of that and appreciate why it lost and put firmer footings in place. That’s the job at hand.”

Play your early work!

Cruddas also made reference to Blair’s well-documented musical days, saying “he had the best early tunes, some of the later fusion stuff was rubbish.”

But even without Cruddas’ comments, Blair remains a highly controversial figure due to the 2005 invasion of Iraq. Many senior Labour figures will be keen to put the war and its proponents out of public consciousness in the build-up to the election.

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