POLITICS

Tony Blair Insists He Backs Ed Miliband '100%' To Lead Labour To Election Victory

07/04/2015 12:04 BST | Updated 07/04/2015 12:59 BST

Tony Blair has insisted he is fully supportive of Ed Miliband and hopes he wins the general election next month, amid suspicions the former prime minister does not agree with the Labour leader's approach.

Following a speech on the importance of Britain's continued membership of the European Union in his former constituency of Sedgefield this morning, Blair was repeatedly asked by journalists whether he backed Miliband.

"I support him 100% to lead our party to victory at the election," he said. "I want Labour to win. I want us to win for the future of our country and its place in the world. I want Labour, under Ed's leadership to be the government of our country on May 8," he said.

Asked why he was not sharing a platform Miliband, Blair said the Labour leader was campaigning on health issues in the West Country, adding: "We are a party that can do more than one thing at once."

Blair has previously been interpreted as criticising the direction in which Miliband has taken the Labour Party, when he warned that fighting an election along "traditional" battlelines would result in a traditional Tory victory.

But Blair insisted today: "I agree completely with what he is saying about the central challenge of inequality in our country today. I think he is absolutely right to note that the times have changed, that this is a huge issue for people and I think he has got an excellent set of policies to deal with it."

The questions from journalists to Blair did not go down that well with all of the Labour Party activists gathered to here Blair speak. BBC deputy policy editor James Landale tweeted after the event: "This Tony Blair event very nostalgic. A member of the audience even called me "Tory scum" for asking a question."

Blair told what he described as the "London media" that he hoped their trip north had been "productive". However his eyebrows suggested he did not think it had been.