Speaking at the Queen’s Chatham House today, Tony Blair, one of the Queen’s key assets in controlling Obama, let it all hang out, insisting that if Britain is to remain a world power, it must “leverage” its strength through its control over Europe. It would be a “monumental error” for Britain to turn its back on Europe, Blair said, warning that David Cameron’s policy of renegotiating the UK’s position in the European Union would pave the way for withdrawal.
Leaving the EU would be “politically debilitating, economically damaging, and hugely destructive of Britain’s true long-term interests,” said Blair. “Europe is a destiny we will never embrace easily. But it is an absolutely essential part of our nation remaining a world power politically and economically. It would be a monumental error of statesmanship to turn our back on it and fall away from a crucial position of power and influence in the 21st century.”
Blair said the UK can best use its influence to shape the EU by making clear it wishes to remain at its heart (or throat?). Despite the current crisis in the eurozone, Blair contended that “the rationale for Europe today is stronger, not weaker, than it was back 66 years ago when the project began.” But, he said: “It is different. Then the rationale was peace. Today it is power. Then it was about a continent ravaged by war in which Germany had been the aggressor and Britain the victor. Today it is about a world in which global geo-politics is undergoing its biggest change for centuries.”
“Power is shifting West to East. China has emerged, with its economy opening up, one which will grow eventually to be the world’s largest. Its population is three times that of the whole of the EU. India has over a billion people. Brazil is two times the size of the largest European country, Indonesia three times, and there are a host of countries including Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines and Egypt larger today than any single EU nation…. In this new world, to leverage power, you need the heft of the EU. This is true in economics, in trade, in defence, foreign policy and global challenges such as climate change. It gives us a weight collectively that on our own we lack.
“It is not complex. It really is that simple. I rather like the idealism of Europe’s early founders. But actually this has nothing to do with idealism. It is brutal realpolitik.
“In a world in which China and India will both have populations 20 times that of the UK, we need the EU to help pursue our national interest. With it, we count for more. Without it, we count for less.” (emphasis added)