LONDON (AP) — Former British leader Tony Blair waded into Britain's general election campaign Tuesday, warning of economic chaos should Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party win the race.
Blair, an adept communicator known for his ability to cook down complicated matters into understandable concepts, will be seeking to offer that splash of charisma that helped him win three elections as Labour leader. But his entrance into the campaign is also a gamble for Labour, as his legacy has been tainted by his hugely unpopular decision to intervene in Iraq.
Returning to his former constituency in Sedgefield, Blair argued that Cameron's efforts to appease the rightwing members of his party and to stamp out a challenge from the U.K. Independence Party by holding a referendum on the European Union will create job insecurity and unpredictability in the British economy. Blair urged voters to look at the bigger picture and consider the consequences and risks such a referendum poses.
"I believe passionately that leaving Europe would leave Britain diminished in the world, do significant damage to our economy and, less obviously but just as important to our future, would go against the very qualities that mark us out still as a great global nation," Blair said.
Blair's appearance is the first in a series of stops to pump the fortunes of Labour candidate Ed Miliband. But his entrance is risky for Labour, as Blair's charm only highlights the leaden style and professorial manner that makes critics wonder whether Miliband has what it takes to be prime minister.
The two men did not appear together at the event Monday and the Conservatives immediately suggested that Blair's appearance was a sign of desperation.
"I think it shows the weakness of Ed Miliband that the Labour Party has had to bring him into the fray at this point," Home Secretary Theresa May said.
Blair brushed off such criticism, saying Miliband was campaigning in another part of the country and that he believes it was possible for a party to do more than one thing at once.
"I support him (Miliband) 100 percent to lead our party to victory at the election," Blair said.