Tony Blair is in no position to gives lectures on immigration

Tony Blair oversaw a period of high immigration
Tony Blair oversaw a period of high immigration - Andrew Parsons /PA

Sir Tony Blair left office 17 years ago but his influence and legacy remain strong. The former prime minister is busy offering advice to his successor Sir Keir Starmer. His institute is also urging the new administration to embrace the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence.

These could transform poor productivity in the public sector, making it better and cheaper to run. The number crunchers at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change have calculated that 40 per cent of the tasks in the Department for Work and Pensions, for instance, could be automated and they would improve as a result.

Since there are 90,000 staff in the department, the trade unions will doubtless have something to say about any job losses, especially as Labour plans to enhance workers’ rights. Indeed, Sir Tony is right, but you can be certain the area most likely to resist it will be the public sector.

The former prime minister has also advised Sir Keir to get tough on immigration, which may invite a hollow laugh from the country since it was after he took office in 1997 that the numbers soared.

Sir Tony says this was because he did not block the free movement to the UK of people from Eastern European countries joining the EU. This brought millions into the country, which helped bankroll Labour spending. It was done deliberately but the party claimed that just a few thousand would take up the opportunity.

Sir Tony said that most of those people were single Europeans, whereas now they are people from Africa and Asia. He stopped himself from expanding on this point, even as he warned about the need to confront the threat posed by Reform UK. Why so reluctant to join the dots?

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