Tony Blair warns Ed Miliband not 'to chase nasty Ukip policies' by curbing immigration

The former Prime Minister says that ending immigration would be a "disaster for this country"

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair has warned against ending immigration, arguing that to do so supports damaging Ukip policies based a “nasty core of prejudice”.

He suggested Labour take a stronger stand against Nigel Farage’s party.

“Let’s be clear: we don’t think that Ukip’s right, not on immigration and not on Europe – so the first thing you’ve got to be really careful of doing is… saying things that suggest that they’re kind of justified in their policy, because what you’re actually going to do is validate their argument when in fact you don’t believe in it,” he told Progress magazine.

Although he didn’t explicitly call on Ed Miliband to fight against Ukip, although said that Labour should not “end up chasing after the policies of a party like Ukip, who you don’t agree with, whose policies would take this country backwards economically, politically, in every conceivable way, and who, ultimately, at the heart of what they do, have a rather nasty core of prejudice that none of us believe in, which you’ve actually got to take on and fight. So the way to deal with this is to deal with it by what you believe.”

Earlier this week, Blair said that Miliband will lose to the Conservatives in the 2015 election because Labour has failed to develop a “narrative that is about the future of the country”.

Labour narrowly won Heywood and Middleton over Ukip earlier this month, holding on to the seat by 11,633 to 11,016 votes. Miliband said, following the win, that he didn’t think that Ukip could “represent the interests of working people” because they wanted to cut taxes for the rich.

Although Blair asserts that ending immigration would be “a disaster for this country”, he accepts that there needs to be border controls to ensure that “the system doesn’t get abused and exploited, and you don’t end up with people feeling that they’ve lost control over their communities and their lives”.

Blair also criticised the Conservatives for their handling of Ukip, arguing that David Cameron would attract more support “if they actually stood up against these people and said: ‘You don’t understand the way the world works today, your policies will take us backwards and we’re not going there.’”

In May, Cameron said that “the whole country has heard enough to know what sort of party Ukip is”.