In Brief

Tony Blair plans comeback to stop Tories 'screwing up Brexit'

Former Labour prime minister reportedly wants to help shape terms of UK's exit deal with EU

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair is planning a political comeback to influence the UK's negotiations to leave the European Union, according to the Sunday Times.

He is reportedly setting up an institute close to Whitehall and has held talks with senior ministers and officials, a move the newspaper says has "raised eyebrows" among several Cabinet members.

According to a source, Blair thinks Prime Minister Theresa May is a lightweight and Labour leader's Jeremy Corbyn is "a nutter". He is also concerned "the Tories are screwing up Brexit".

The news was met with a mixture of glee and scorn by politicians and commentators.

Eurosceptic MPs said it was a "complete win" to have someone such as Blair fighting for Remainers, says the Daily Telegraph.

Former Conservative environment secretary Owen Paterson said: "This is glorious news. He is one of those discredited establishment figures who repeals many people. For this, he must win the international prize for lack of self-awareness this year."

Tory MP Peter Lilley told the Telegraph Blair was leading the campaign for a "hokey-cokey Brexit - one where you take your left leg out, put your left leg in, shake it all about and end up where you were when you started".

In The Sun, columnist Trevor Kavanagh said the move showed "eye-popping cheek" and blamed the former Labour leader for single-handedly fuelling "the anti-EU rage which triggered Britain's stunning OUT vote in June".

He added: "Blair is deranged enough to believe he could cut a better deal than Theresa May. Yet as a negotiator, at home and abroad, he is a proven catastrophe."

Blair launched his campaign against a "blind Brexit" in October with an article in the New European newspaper calling on readers to "prise apart the alliance which gave us Brexit".

Tony Blair urges West to shun 'flabby liberalism'

22 March

The West can only address extremism and the refugee crisis by vigorously promoting the values of tolerance and respect, Tony Blair has said.

Interviewed in Dubai last week, the former prime minister warned against "flabby liberalism" and urged the West to get over the idea that it was interfering in other countries' affairs when it promoted tolerance.

"We're in a situation where he have to fight back," he told the BBC. "There's this idea that you're part of an elite if you think in terms of respectful tolerance towards other people. It's ridiculous."

He added: "There are many other people in the region who do not regard the notion of peaceful coexistence as a Western value. They see it as a sensible human value, a global value."

The lack of a coherent mainstream approach to migration had allowed extreme arguments to flourish, he argued.

"If you don't give a solution and you leave people with a choice between what I would call a bit of flabby liberalism and the hardline, they'll take the hardline, I'm afraid," he said.

On multiculturalism, Blair said the concept had been abused for a long time and that people should not be made to feel "culturally insensitive" when they asserted women's equality.

"We have to be clear no one has the right to abrogate those basic human rights," he said.

He also warned that religious extremism was nurturing bigotry and conflict and was being cultivated formally and informally in schools.

"[Children] are taught a culture of hate and they can be untaught it," he said. "This extremist thinking is what you have to attack. If you don't attack the ideology, you'll never defeat the violence."

Blair hopes a "Global Commitment to Education" can help reverse the spread of intolerance and that education against extremism will one day be seen as an international obligation, just like tackling pollution.

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