UK Politics

Tony Blair says UK must help shape post-crisis Europe

Tony Blair
Image caption Tony Blair said he was still interested in the job of European president

Tony Blair says it is "critical" that the UK helps to shape the political reconstruction of Europe in the wake of the eurozone crisis.

The former PM also says he is deeply hesitant about the need for a referendum on European membership, as some in the Labour party would like.

He says Britain must not allow itself to be excluded from negotiations on the European Union's future.

The ex-Labour leader was speaking to BBC Radio 4's the World this Weekend.

He told the programme there was an "urgent" need to recapitalise banks within the eurozone - but for it to survive Germany would have to come "fully behind the single currency".

"There's got to be no doubt about the depth of its commitment," he added.

Murdoch claim

Mr Blair has confirmed that if he had been offered the job of European president, when it last arose, he would have taken it - and has not ruled out taking the job if he is offered it in the future.

"That's a way, way down the line. I have no thought of stepping back into European politics at this moment," he said.

On suggestions by Alastair Campbell that Mr Blair came under pressure from Rupert Murdoch over the Iraq war, the former prime minister said: "My position on this issue was absolutely clear, it didn't need him or anyone else to tell me what it should be."

Mr Campbell, the former No 10 communications chief, said Mr Murdoch called Mr Blair three times in March 2003 to urge him not to delay the invasion of Iraq.

The claim is made in the latest part of Mr Campbell's diaries, which are being serialised in the Guardian newspaper.

In his World This Weekend interview, Mr Blair, who left office in 2007, told the programme Europe needed policies to promote growth combined with "deep structural reform".

And it was "completely unreasonable" to ask Germany to get fully behind the euro without such reforms.

Mr Blair said the EU was "very fast approaching" the point at which Germany will agree but only with "precise, credible demonstrations" the relevant reforms will be delivered.

"You only have to state that to realise it is a pretty big ask to make," he added.

"But it is the only way, irrespective of what happens in Greece, that I can see the single currency now surviving."

There was an urgent need to recapitalise European banks, said Mr Blair, including, potentially those in France - but growth was needed for countries to deal with liquidity and solvency issues.

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