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POLITICO's EU Confidential

263 EpisodesProduced by POLITICO EuropeWebsite

From Brussels and around the Continent — the top European politics podcast.

36:06

Ep. 36 : Tony Blair interview — Food bank furor — MEP of the week

Tony Blair came to Brussels this week with a clear message, delivered in this week's interview: I’m trying to stop Brexit, and there’s only one shot left — European immigration controls. If that idea or a second British Brexit referendum fails, Europe will be left with an angrier bigger version of Singapore undercutting its business and social model on its doorstep.

Highlights from the show:

Hard Brexit will mean big, angry European version of Singapore: If Brexit continues on its current course, Blair predicts there will be "a long and difficult period of economic restructuring" in Britain. As part of that process, the U.K. will become "a competitor to Europe, not an ally" and will "attract investment basically by pointing the finger at Europe and saying 'we're not like them,'" he said. "That's the future and that has massive implications for your welfare system, your pension system, your health care system.”

Immigration fears: Blair admits he could have done more within EU freedom of movement rules to preemptively tackle immigration fears. "I think that frankly what I didn't really understand fully is how different countries in Europe deal with the existing freedom rules in Europe. If you take for example what the French do or how the Belgians deal with them, they just apply these rules in a much tougher way. In Belgium you're given two months to find a job and if you don’t, you're out."
Tories would be crazy to hold an election rather than a second Brexit referendum: Blair explains why he thinks one of those options is inevitable.

U.K. government handling of Northern Ireland: "It makes me very angry, I think it's totally irresponsible."

What Blair thinks is wrong with Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit policy: Being satisfied with a bespoke customs union with the EU would mean the Labour Party "pulled up its anchor … without actually getting to the truly safe harbour which is to turn the fire on the whole Tory strategy."
EU's reform problem: "Every time it wants to reform it sees this in terms of institutional power … (instead of) expending your energy in a way that the citizens of Europe will find useful."

On his failed tilt at European Council president: "I would have done it if I was asked. I wasn't and there were lots of different reasons for that,” who was in town to give a speech at an event organized by the European Policy Centre.

Blair on Blair: The former prime minister tells us about his worst EU summit moment, his European political hero, what he thinks about retirement, and what keeps him grounded.

EU WTF: Our podcast panel discusses the decision of a German food bank to turn away foreigners.

MEP of the week: Panel members delve once again into our big box of names to test their knowledge of members of the European Parliament.

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