Immigration not to blame even though it fuels populism
Tony Blair is reported to have admitted that high immigration is fuelling ‘populism’ but criticised the unemployed who complain migrants are taking their jobs.
The former Labour prime minister is said to have conceded there is a ‘real anxiety’ for people who feel their income is stagnating and said it was driving some towards the far right.
He also believed to have emphasised that those who feel they have been squeezed out of the labour market by cheap workers from overseas should stop blaming immigration and instead get better ‘education and the skills’.
His comments will anger those who say New Labour oversaw an ‘open door’ policy during the Blair years, leading to an expansion in arrivals to the UK.
Speaking at the Global Education and Skills Forum, which was held at the weekend in the United Arab Emirates by the Varkey Foundation, Mr Blair was quoted as saying that migration had fuelled right-wing populism. He added that a lot of the migration debate is prejudice.
He is believed to have said that education was key in combatting populism, and that it was important to educate both refugees entering countries and those that are already there.
His comments were made in response to a question about his views on Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. He said that it is not anger, but answers that will deliver the results.
Last month, journalist Tom Bower’s new book ‘Broken Vows: Tony Blair The Tragedy of Power’ had claimed Mr Blair presided over a silent conspiracy to change the face of Britain with mass immigration. The book said that under Blair’s instruction, thousands of asylum seekers were welcomed into the UK under cover of their being ‘economic migrants.’
The book goes on to say that 350,000 asylum seekers benefited this way, when in 2002 alone, Mr Blair gave the go-ahead for 150,000 work permits. Most of the recipients, including the unskilled, went on to become UK citizens.