Tony Blair defends record on immigration

SPEAKING OUT: Tony Blair, who gave a briefing to journalists yesterday

SPEAKING OUT: Tony Blair, who gave a briefing to journalists yesterday

First published in News

TONY Blair yesterday (Tuesday, December 18) issued a fierce defence of the record number of immigrants under his premiership - urging politicians not to "make them the scapegoats for our problems."

The former prime minister urged people to be "careful" in their comments, adding: "Immigrants do a lot for this country, they bring fresh energy, fresh initiative - it will be sad day if we end up targeting them."

And, asked whether his government should have done more to restrict entry from Eastern Europe, he replied: "Personally, I think the Polish community contributes a lot to this country."

The comments came just days after David Cameron attacked Labour for letting in two million migrants during its decade in power, saying: "Immigration was out of control under the previous government."

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, in a flagship speech last week, acknowledged Labour had "made mistakes", including failing to impose transitional controls on migrants from new EU member states in Eastern Europe.

Speaking to journalists at Westminster - and insisting he was "emphatically not" criticising Mr Miliband - Mr Blair, the former Sedgefield MP, said: "Of course it has to be controlled and illegal immigration has to be tackled head on.

"It's important that we do that.

"But, overall, I would like to say that I think immigration has been good for Britain and most immigrants have assimilated well. So don't make them a scapegoat for our problems."

During the question-and-answer session, Mr Blair also: * Urged Britain not to turn its back on Europe, saying: "Talk of leaving is dangerous, immensely damaging to Britain's long-term interests".

* Defended financial services as "an essential part of our economic future", adding: "We must be careful that we don't flatten it with regulation and capital requirements that go too far."

* Insisted climate change "still matters", saying: "It shouldn't be a casualty of the financial and economic crisis."

* Argued Scotland would reject independence, adding of the pro-union campaign: "I'm very happy to play a part in it."

* Criticised calls for an early withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan and an attitude that said "forget about the rest of the world, - we just retreat back into our homeland".

* Defended his role amid revelations about the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects - referring to a memo that "made it absolutely clear, in my own handwriting, that we would not condone the use of torture or maltreatment of suspects".

* Revealed he had sent a Christmas card to Gordon Brown.

On Europe, Mr Blair criticised any rush towards a referendum on Britain's EU membership, before the country had worked out "what we want Europe to look like - and what part Britain should play in that".

Ahead of Mr Cameron's crunch EU speech next month, he said: "A referendum is not a way of alleviating the responsibility of political leaders to take a clear position and fight for it."

On his own future, Mr Blair again refused to rule out a return to public life, but said: "I'm not aiming for it, wanting it, positioning for it, or any of the rest of it - and I doubt whether it's ever going to happen."

Asked whether he would like to be President of Europe, he said: "President of Europe? It's gone - Mr Van Rompuy is doing it."

Comments (10)

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8:02am Wed 19 Dec 12

stevegg says...

Yes, Blair still doesnt get it and more to the point doesnt care with his tens of millions in the bank, his luxury homes here and abroad, he can opt out any time he likes if his layers of security cant protect him from reality! Mass uncontrolled immigration on a scale never been seen before and opposed by the vast majority of the public, which has seen over 3 million pour into this country pushing our infrastructure to breaking point. Lets not forget the Human rights act which both Tony and Cherie signed us up to (with Cherie pocketing millions as a result of being a human rights barrister) which has over the last decade been twisted and exploited so all those foreign born nationals who are criminals and those here illegally can never be deported. Thanks for not putting safeguards in place Tony to stop our nation being abused by all!
Yes, Blair still doesnt get it and more to the point doesnt care with his tens of millions in the bank, his luxury homes here and abroad, he can opt out any time he likes if his layers of security cant protect him from reality! Mass uncontrolled immigration on a scale never been seen before and opposed by the vast majority of the public, which has seen over 3 million pour into this country pushing our infrastructure to breaking point. Lets not forget the Human rights act which both Tony and Cherie signed us up to (with Cherie pocketing millions as a result of being a human rights barrister) which has over the last decade been twisted and exploited so all those foreign born nationals who are criminals and those here illegally can never be deported. Thanks for not putting safeguards in place Tony to stop our nation being abused by all! stevegg
  • Score: 0

8:18am Wed 19 Dec 12

BMD says...

"Immigrants do a lot for this country, they bring fresh energy, fresh initiative - it will be sad day if we end up targeting them."

Phoney Tony forgot to mention that immigrants also bring fresh crime, fresh benefit claims, fresh strain on services - it would be a sad day if we end up paying them unemployment benefit.

Oppps, we already do!
"Immigrants do a lot for this country, they bring fresh energy, fresh initiative - it will be sad day if we end up targeting them." Phoney Tony forgot to mention that immigrants also bring fresh crime, fresh benefit claims, fresh strain on services - it would be a sad day if we end up paying them unemployment benefit. Oppps, we already do! BMD
  • Score: 0

11:17am Wed 19 Dec 12

Durham Exile says...

2 million more immigrants in the days of the last Labour government, many of them from Eastern Europe taking low-skilled jobs. We now have a problem with record youth unemployment, as we have a real shortage of low-skilled jobs.

"asked whether his government should have done more to restrict entry from Eastern Europe, he replied: "Personally, I think the Polish community contributes a lot..."

Typical side-stepping Blair, the spin-master in action. He couldn't just answer the question.

"asked whether German forces should not be exterminating unarmed Jews, Hitler replied "Personally, I think the bravery of German and British soldiers on the battlefield cannot be questioned"
2 million more immigrants in the days of the last Labour government, many of them from Eastern Europe taking low-skilled jobs. We now have a problem with record youth unemployment, as we have a real shortage of low-skilled jobs. "asked whether his government should have done more to restrict entry from Eastern Europe, he replied: "Personally, I think the Polish community contributes a lot..." Typical side-stepping Blair, the spin-master in action. He couldn't just answer the question. "asked whether German forces should not be exterminating unarmed Jews, Hitler replied "Personally, I think the bravery of German and British soldiers on the battlefield cannot be questioned" Durham Exile
  • Score: 0

11:18am Wed 19 Dec 12

Durham Exile says...

Why link Hitler and Blair? Easy - they're both war criminals.
Why link Hitler and Blair? Easy - they're both war criminals. Durham Exile
  • Score: 0

1:18pm Wed 19 Dec 12

loonyleft says...

You are forgetting all the uk residents who live and work abroad,if they all came back at once they would put the same pressures on housing,health services etc.
You are forgetting all the uk residents who live and work abroad,if they all came back at once they would put the same pressures on housing,health services etc. loonyleft
  • Score: -1

9:35pm Wed 19 Dec 12

David Lacey says...

Can you really believe that last message?
Can you really believe that last message? David Lacey
  • Score: 0

12:33pm Thu 20 Dec 12

ian923 says...

Blair couldn't lie straight in bed. He has lied, lied and lied more at various venues.It comes as second nature to him.He didn't give a fig about us-he was only ever feathering his own nest.I bet he doesn't even pay tax in the UK-he has said he does but I don't believe him for some reason.
Blair couldn't lie straight in bed. He has lied, lied and lied more at various venues.It comes as second nature to him.He didn't give a fig about us-he was only ever feathering his own nest.I bet he doesn't even pay tax in the UK-he has said he does but I don't believe him for some reason. ian923
  • Score: 0

12:34pm Thu 20 Dec 12

ian923 says...

Blair couldn't lie straight in bed. He has lied, lied and lied more at various venues.It comes as second nature to him.He didn't give a fig about us-he was only ever feathering his own nest.I bet he doesn't even pay tax in the UK-he has said he does but I don't believe him for some reason.
Blair couldn't lie straight in bed. He has lied, lied and lied more at various venues.It comes as second nature to him.He didn't give a fig about us-he was only ever feathering his own nest.I bet he doesn't even pay tax in the UK-he has said he does but I don't believe him for some reason. ian923
  • Score: 0

1:48pm Thu 20 Dec 12

David Lacey says...

I'm pleased you said it twice Ian. Loopy might get the message.
I'm pleased you said it twice Ian. Loopy might get the message. David Lacey
  • Score: 0

10:45am Sat 22 Dec 12

johnny_p says...

Loony will always tick Labour. If you took him back to Berlin in 1939 he'd have voted for Hitler seeing as they were The National "Socialists" and red was their colour.

Put a red cocktail stick in a piece of dog waste and he'll be singing it's praises.....
Loony will always tick Labour. If you took him back to Berlin in 1939 he'd have voted for Hitler seeing as they were The National "Socialists" and red was their colour. Put a red cocktail stick in a piece of dog waste and he'll be singing it's praises..... johnny_p
  • Score: 0

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