Tony Blair responds to war criminal claims with astonishing attack on Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Blair accuses the Labour leader of only being interested in the politics of protest

Charlie Cooper
Whitehall Correspondent
Wednesday 08 June 2016 13:28 BST
Tony Blair responds to war criminal claims with astonishing attack on Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn represents the “politics of protest” and is standing by while people are “bombed, beaten and starved into submission” in Syria, Tony Blair has said, in his most vehement attack on the Labour leader yet.

The former Prime Minister, who is awaiting the publication of the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War, dismissed Mr Corbyn as the “guy with the placard” and suggested he was incapable of making the “difficult decisions” required of a world leader.

Attacking Mr Corbyn, who has suggested that Mr Blair should face a war crimes investigation, the former Labour leader told Bloomberg: “I’m accused of being a war criminal for removing Saddam Hussein – who by the way was a war criminal – and yet Jeremy is seen as a progressive icon as we stand by and watch the people of Syria barrel-bombed, beaten and starved into submission and do nothing.”

He said that both Mr Corbyn and US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had benefitted from the “revolutionary phenomenon” of social media, which he said could win mass support for political figures on “waves of sentiment and emotion”.

Outlining how he felt his style of politics differed to Mr Corbyn’s, he said: “There’s a guy whose face is on the placard. That’s me: hate that guy. You’re the person in power taking difficult decisions. Jeremy is the guy with the placard, he’s the guy holding it. One’s the politics of power and the other’s the politics of protest.”

Blair hints he could reject the findings of the Chilcot inquiry

Last year, Mr Corbyn said the former prime minister could be made to stand trial for war crimes, saying that he thought the Iraq War was an illegal one and that Mr Blair "has to explain that".

“We went into a war that was catastrophic, that was illegal, that cost us a lot of money, that lost a lot of lives,” he told Newsnight in August. “The consequences are still played out with migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, refugees all over the region,” he said.

In response to Mr Blair's astonishing attack, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "What Tony Blair says is a matter for him. If he is suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn is leading a politics of protest, I would say that's not correct. Jeremy Corbyn is leading the Opposition and building support against a Conservative Government."

He added that the Labour leader will not budge from his refusal to share platforms with Conservatives or the cross-party Stronger In campaign in the last few days before the EU referendum.

Mr Corbyn has been criticised from all sides for refusing to share platforms with Conservative opponents of Brexit during the referendum and been urged to make a stronger case for the Remain camp.

Asked whether he would be prepared to appear alongside Mr Blair on pro-EU platforms, the Labour leader's spokesman said: "I think Tony Blair has been involved in the Stronger In campaign. We have made it absolutely clear Jeremy is only working on the Labour In campaign. We are not sharing platforms with the Stronger In campaign and we are not sharing platforms with the Tories."

He added: "There are no plans to share a platform with Tony Blair ... We are not asking Tony Blair to do that, let's be clear about that."

On Tuesday, it was reported Mr Blair is expected to defend himself against the findings by claiming the situation in the Middle East would have been worse if Saddam Hussein had been left in power.

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