TONY BLAIR now believes Jeremy Corbyn has what it takes to win a general election — but would leave the country in ‘real trouble’.
The former PM said he had changed his mind about Labour’s election prospects following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump.
But he warned that the Labour leader did not have an ‘agenda for the future’ and was offering the same hard Brexit as the Conservatives.
‘If you follow up Brexit with a hard-left economic programme this country is going to be in real trouble,’ he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
‘The fact is they aren’t solutions — they are two different visions of the 1960s when this country needs to work out an agenda for the future.’
He said it was ‘possible’ Brexit would not happen, but warned that his party’s call for a ‘jobs-first Brexit’ while leaving the single market was a ‘contradiction in terms’.
He added: ‘A lot of people supported us at the last election on the basis that voting Labour was a way of stopping Brexit or limiting the mandate that Theresa May had for Brexit.
‘I’m sceptical that this is a coalition capable of holding together if it becomes clear we are in the same position as the Tories on Brexit.
‘We’re stuck with one political party that’s defined by Brexit and an attitude on immigration that is just out of date, and the other with an old-style leftist programme which, I understand why it generates enthusiasm, but it isn’t an answer.’
Earlier, Mr Blair had suggested the EU might be prepared to offer concessions over freedom of movement if Britain remained a member.
But shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused Mr Blair of being ‘out of touch’ with the country.
Mr Blair said he ‘felt sorry’ for the prime minister because ‘the sharks are always circling’ and ‘people around her are just waiting for the moment when they throw her off the edge’.
But he slammed Mrs May’s Brexit strategy. ‘I’d like to see more leadership and less followership,’ he said. Confessing he was wrong about a ‘rout’ and ‘annihilation’ for Labour at the last election, the party’s longest-serving prime minister paid tribute to Mr Corbyn’s ‘temperament’ and his mobilisation of younger voters.
And, in an interview for BBC Newsnight to be broadcast tonight, he said he did not fully understand the increase in Labour support but predicted Mr Corbyn could become prime minister.
‘But I’m not changing my mind on the wisdom — at the same time as delivering Brexit — of delivering a frankly unreconstructed far-left programme.’