POLITICS

Tony Blair Says No Place For 'Poison' Of Anti-Semitism In Labour Party

'There’s absolutely no place for antisemitism in our party'

04/05/2016 01:05

Tony Blair has said there is no place for the "poison" of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, as Jeremy Corbyn fights accusations the party has a problem with racism.

The former prime minister said the past few days, which have seen Ken Livigstone and others suspended from Labour over comments about Israel and Hitler, meant it was "important" the internal-party inquiry took place.

"I know I speak for the overwhelming majority of Labour party members when I say there’s absolutely no place for antisemitism in our party," Blair told Bloomberg.

"On the contrary, we have always been strong and powerful campaigners against that type of prejudice and that sort of poison.

"It’s been a difficult time, but we'll have this inquiry take its course, and I’m sure we’ll come out with some very strong conclusions on this."

On Wednesday, the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said Labour had a "severe" problem with anti-Semitism that would get worse if the party's inquiry into the issue was used as "sticking plaster" to placate voters.

"If this inquiry turns out to be no more than a sticking plaster, designed to placate and diffuse until after the elections this week, the problem will surely get worse and not better," he said.

In his Bloomberg interview, Blair also said he believed the "rational" British would reject Brexit.

"When you look at the polls, they’re pretty evenly matched. But my best instinct about this is that the country will do the sensible thing and stay in the EU," he said.

"Because If we were to leave it would put a level of economic insecurity into the ordinary family household that I think most people would think is a foolish risk to take. So I believe we will stay. But I have to say, I look at politics around the world these days and it’s in an unpredictable state."

Blair said President Obama, who was criticised by the pro-Brexit campaign, had been right to intervene in the referendum debate.

"If you’re rational, the view of the president of the most powerful country in the world and our biggest ally should matter. So when someone like President Obama comes, and personally, I think it’s important we know his view. The strength of his view. It does count," he said.

Blair also defended his Labour government's immigration policies. "Personally, I do not feel that the immigration from eastern Europe was a problem for Britain," he said.

"I think those people contribute far more in taxes than they ever take in benefits. They're hard-working people, they're good members of our community. And the benefit of having eastern Europe in the EU is enormous."

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