Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair said the party may have been ‘lost’ forever to left-wingers.
Speaking to BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson, he said he ‘didn’t know’ if the party, now headed by Jeremy Corbyn, could ever be ‘taken back’ by those in the centre or the right-wing of Labour.
His comments were immediately condemned, with one MP, Chris WIlliamson, telling the former leader that Labour, which has been rocked in recent weeks by an anti-Semitism row, had ‘never been more united’.
Mr Blair, who was the British Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007 – and remains the last Labour leader to win a General Election – told Nick Robinson’s ‘Political Thinking Podcast’ that his party was undergoing ‘profound change’.
‘It is a different type of Labour Party. Can it be taken back? I don’t know,’ he said.
He added: ‘There [are] lots of people associated with me who feel that the Labour Party is lost, that the game’s over.
‘I am hoping they are not right.’
Mr Blair also hinted at a new centrist political party emerging in the UK, saying both Labour and the Conservatives were moving to extremes.
Tony Blair was never in the right party and there will never be a return to his politics in @UKLabour
— Jon Lansman (@jonlansman) September 7, 2018
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‘I don’t think the British people will tolerate a situation where, for example, the choice at the next election is Boris Johnson versus Jeremy Corbyn,’ he said.
‘I don’t know what will happen and I don’t know how it will happen.
‘But I just don’t believe people will find that, in the country as a whole, an acceptable choice. Something will fill that vacuum.’
The comments provoked a backlash.
Jon Lansman, the founder of the pro-Corbyn Momentum movement, said the former Prime Minister was in the wrong party – and there was no turning back.
‘Tony Blair was never in the right party and there will never be a return to his politics in UK Labour,’ he tweeted.