Tony Blair urges Labour to take on Ukip over immigration and EU
Former leader says Ed Miliband will not gain anything if he tries to follow ‘nasty and unpleasant’ party led by Nigel Farage.
Tony Blair has urged the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and the rest of the mainstream political class to take on and confront Ukip, saying it would only confuse Labour’s own supporters if it now ran on an anti-immigration platform.
He also urged Miliband to stay put on the issue of an in/out EU referendum, saying that yielding to the pressure of Ukip had not done the Conservative party any good to date.
Behind the Ukip facade was something pretty nasty and unpleasant, Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The former Labour leader said: “For the Labour party, if it tries to follow Ukip either on its anti-European platform or, even worse frankly, on its anti-immigrant platform, all that will happen is that it will confuse its own supporters and will not draw any greater support.”
Miliband has repeatedly apologised for Labour’s lenient approach to immigration in the past, saying it had not understood enough about the downsides of globalisation for working-class communities.
But Blair said: “I would very strongly support the position we took both on immigration and Europe. I fought the 2005 election on a campaign against immigration from the then Conservative leader. I have always said, of course you have got to have proper controls on immigration, you to have to deal with those parts of the immigrant community that are rejecting the idea of integrating into the mainstream, but to allow that then to trend into anti-immigrant feeling is a huge mistake for the country.”
He added: “People in Ukip always say other the politicians don’t get it; I do get it and I get them. You look a little bit beneath that Ukip facade and you see something, in my view, pretty nasty and unpleasant”.