Tony Blair has paid tribute to Jeremy Corbyn as he admitted he was “way off” when he predicted possible annihilation at the ballot box with the left-winger as Labour leader.
The former Prime Minister - who won three elections - has frequently spoken out against Corbyn, and even told party members to “get a transplant” if their heart was telling them to back the Islington North MP in the first leadership election.
Yet after Corbyn deprived Theresa May of a majority in June’s election, increasing Labour seats and votes on the way, Blair has been forced to concede he was wrong about the popularity of the new regime’s policy agenda.
However, Blair still reiterated that a “hard-left economic programme” would leave the UK in “real trouble” after Brexit, and suggested it was the poor Tory campaign more than Labour’s actions which delivered the surprise election result.
On Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Blair was told he was “way off” with his assessment of Corbyn’s unelectability.
Blair replied: “Yep. That’s absolutely correct.
“I think this election, by the way, was held in very unique circumstances. I actually think that at the beginning of the election campaign, we were going to be routed.
“I think what happened was as much to do with the Tory campaign as our campaign.”
“However, I say this absolutely up front in the essay that I’ve written, I’ve got to pay tribute to his temperament during the campaign, to their mobilisation particularly of younger voters, the way they fought the campaign. They’ve generated a lot of enthusiasm, I completely buy that.
“What I don’t buy is two things. First of all, I think a lot of people voted Labour, not because they thought he was about to be Prime Minister and Labour was about to win but because they were horrified at the Tory campaign and wanted to put the brakes on it.
“Secondly, there will be a significant number of people for sure who voted for him with enthusiasm, [but] I think there will be an awful lot of people who voted for him because they couldn’t stomach the Tories and wanted to make a point and I’m skeptical myself that this is a coalition that’s holding, particularly if it becomes clear that we’re really in the same position as the Tories on Brexit.”
Blair used the interview to repeat his warnings about Brexit, and suggested it might not actually happen.