UKIP’s historic European Election victory has rattled politicians across the country. As the three largest parties in Britain prepare to set out their response to their newest unwelcome rival, former Prime Minister Tony Blair took to the airwaves to denounce the right-wing Eurosceptic party.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Blair said that UKIP “had no solutions to the problems of the 21st Century,” and that leaving the EU would be a “massive step backwards and contrary to the interest of the country”.
He said that the EU would have to “listen and lead”, in the wake of the elections, which saw a rise in anti-EU parties in several countries. He also said the EU would have to stop doing “irritating things”.
Blair said the EU must “confront and expose” parties such as UKIP.
“You look underneath that UKIP facade and you see something pretty nasty and unpleasant,” he added.
“You have got to take on people who, within countries, who are arguing for a combination of anti-EU and anti-immigration policies which are not the answer,” he said.
“I am afraid, with those forces, you have got to be prepared to stand up, lead and take them on.”
Blair said that Britain would thrive through striving to be “outward looking and open-minded”, rather than “closed-minded, anti-EU and anti-immigrant”, a view which he said was “reactionary and regressive”.
“Attitudes that are closed-minded, anti-immigrant, anti-EU, ‘stop the world I want to get off’, those attitudes don’t result in economic prosperity or power and influence in the world.
“There is a perfectly good, strong argument to be made – you have to go out and make it.”