Just 22% of Brits think Tony Blair was good for Labour

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks during an interview with Axel Threlfall at a Reuters Newsmaker event on "The challenging state of British politics" in London, Britain, November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Tony Blair was prime minister from 1997 to 2007 (Reuters)

Just 22% of Britons think Tony Blair had a positive effect on the Labour Party, according to a poll.

The YouGov survey was taken on Thursday, the same day as Blair offered his advice to the party by saying it needs a “head-to-toe renewal” and claiming he would have stopped Brexit and “united the country”.

Some 4,584 Brits were interviewed in the wake of the speech and only 22% said he had a positive effect on Labour, with 38% saying he had a negative effect.

The figures were similar with only Labour voters taken into account: 26% labelling him positive and 38% negative.

Even Remain voters – Blair was one of the leading “stop Brexit” voices before Boris Johnson’s landslide election win – were lukewarm towards the man who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007.

Just 31% of europhiles said he had a positive effect, with another 31% saying he had a negative effect.

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The figures reflect just how a divisive figure Blair remains among the UK public, despite being the only Labour leader to win a general election since 1974.

Earlier on Wednesday, he said of Brexit at a King’s College London event marking 120 years since Labour was founded: “I don’t think you can ever unite the country over Brexit. You can unite them after Brexit.

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“So, if we had stopped Brexit, which I think we could have done if we had a serious opposition, I would have said you immediately would have to deal with all the problems that gave rise to [people voting for] Brexit.

“You would have to take a whole series of measures to make sure you are pulling those people back towards you, having alienated them by not doing Brexit.

“What Boris Johnson is doing is wrapping it around the other way: ‘I’m going to do Brexit and reach out to all these northern places, and we’re going to try and keep those Brexit people with us.’”