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Former PM Blair proposes 'exit plan' for coronavirus lockdown dilemma

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Tony Blair risks being accused of exploiting the coronavirus crisis for political and financial gain

Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is trying to influence the debate on the management of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and the wider world through media interviews and the publication of a specialist report by his thinktank.

Blair, who is renowned for exploiting crisis to indulge in self-promotion, was speaking to Sky News earlier where he set out his proposed solution to the coronavirus crisis.

Blair, who was Prime Minister for a decade between 1997 and 2007, told Sky News that he “can’t see any way out” of the coronavirus lockdown “without mass testing of the public”.  

The former PM’s interview came on the heels of the publication of a report by his thinktank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBIGC), on a possible exit plan for gradually lifting the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the British government last month.

Blair claims the coronavirus crisis is the “most complicated and difficult challenge” he has “ever seen in politics”.

Besides mass testing, the plan set out by Blair and his thinktank envisages age segmentation in relation to lockdown easing (with younger people allowed to work sooner) and the appointment of senior ministers to oversee specific elements of the COVID-19 response.

Less originally, Blair and TBIGC are calling for the development of a vaccine, an obvious measure demanded by governments and medical institutions the world over.

In his interview with Sky News Blair was careful to present his proposed solutions in a politically neutral light and was insistent he was merely offering “constructive advice” to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Blair’s appeal to political neutrality sits uneasily with claims about his thinktank’s sources of funding.

Last December the Telegraph reported that Blair was seeking funding for his thinktank from the European Union amid his highly publicized battle to derail Brexit.

Going further back, the Telegraph reported in June 2015 that British tax payers were paying up to £16,000 a week for the former PM to develop his global business empire.

The paper claimed that Blair traveled the world on private jets with a squad of police bodyguards whilst staying at five star hotels, all at the tax payer’s expense.




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