TONY Blair has for the first time accepted that Jeremy Corbyn could be elected prime minister on a radical Left platform.

The former PM and Labour leader told BBC Newsnight that a year ago he would have said it would be impossible for Mr Corbyn to win an election but he admitted that in light of recent political upsets, including Donald Trump’s victory in America, the Brexit referendum result and the Labour leader’s surprise performance in last month’s election, he had had to revise his opinion.

Asked if the Islington MP could win power with a radical Left agenda, Mr Blair replied: “You can’t rule anything out in today’s politics but it doesn’t stop me believing that if we deliver Brexit and at the same time are delivering the programme he has at the moment - unreconstructed, unchanged - we will be in for a very, very difficult time as a country. I still think the surest route is through the centre.”

Loading article content

But pressed further in an interview to be aired on Newsnight’s Monday night show, he went on to say: “I accept now, what if you’d asked me a year ago I’d have said is impossible…is possible; you have to say in today’s world now, there’s been so many political upsets, it’s possible Jeremy Corbyn could become prime minister and Labour could win on that programme.”

The former premier continued: “For most of my political life I’ve been saying: ‘This is the right way to go and, what’s more, it’s the only way to win an election.’ I have to qualify that now. I have to say: ‘No, it’s possible you end up with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.’”

Mr Blair explained that in such turbulent political times people had to distinguish between two separate things.

“One is accepting that there’s something going on in politics that you didn’t get and don’t fully understand…that’s why I’m studying it very hard.

“The other thing is to work out what you believe in. Does the fact that the British people voted for Brexit mean that Brexit’s right? No, it’s a disastrous mistake for the country. It’s relegating us, diminishing us, it’s going to do us damage economically, it’s going to do us damage politically,” he added.