Sunday 10 September 2017

Tony Blair's Immigration Nonsense

Almost seems I write more about Tony Blair than any other public figure these days. If only he'd make like a whack-a-mole and stay down after each polemical hammering. Anyway, his Blairness was all over the news today and found himself sharing time on Andrew Marr because he has Opinions, this time about immigration.

According to Blair, there is no need for Britain to leave the European Union. If we can come to an arrangement with the EU27 about the introduction of limits on movement across borders then the conversation about Brexit would change. Folks who voted to leave because they wanted more control on immigration, and there were a lot of them, might think again if such a deal could be hammered out. Britain would stay in the EU, the economy won't fall off a cliff and all those businesses who invest here can still look forward to unfettered access to the single market.

You can see why, for some, Tony Blair is a political genius. If only someone else had hatched such a scheme? Well, they did. Hard to believe, but it was only just over 18 months ago that Dave returned from Brussels having set out to "renegotiate" Britain's EU membership. What he came back with was the thinnest gruel. He knew getting exemptions from EU migration was never on the cards and, crucially, so did the voters who care about such things. Hence why Dave's stunt was a waste of time. It could never placate the xenophobic beast he and his mates had prodded time after time since taking over the Tory helm.

Back to the present, in a report published by the modestly-titled Tony Blair Institute, they argue for the introduction of higher tuition fees for EU migrants as well as proof new arrivals have a job waiting for them. There would also be conditions attached to social security claims. In short, the usual nonsense intent on stirring up antipathy against people from overseas who choose to work and live here. And again, entirely wishful thinking. Time after time Angela Merkel has reconfirmed the EU's commitment to its four freedoms, and that of movement is one of them. Blair might try the lawyer's trick of shilly-shallying - he claims these restrictions preserve free movement(!) - but it cannot fly as doing so imperils the EU's continued existence. If Britain got an immigration opt out, who next? The pantomime Voltaire resident in the Élysée Palace? The Belgians? The Dutch? The Danes?

Blair may be blinkered and out of sorts with the age we're living through, but he is not a stupid man. He does possess enough wit that surely this question occurred when he touched base with his Institute satraps to produce his immigration report. Yet he doesn't address it. Not in the coverage, not in his interview with Marr. It's as if the media are supposed to tiptoe around the gaping void in his argument in order to indulge him. And they do.

Still, even I find it difficult to disagree with his view that "Brexit is a distraction, not a solution, to the problems this country faces." Blair's intervention doesn't help, however. Nor does it assist Labour in trying to salvage something from the mess. Alas, in the same interview he declared a "renewed sense of mission", so this morning won't be the last time our Tony posts us a card from cloud cuckoo land. I regret to inform you there are more to come.


ejh said...

If only he'd make like a whack-a-mole and stay down


Phil said...

... after a hammering.

Shai Masot said...

Tragedy really. There really is something wild-eyed and manic about the guy these days.