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Boris Johnson is “not the person” to stop the break up of the UK, Tony Blair has said, amid a sustained rise in support for Scottish independence.
The former Labour prime minister said the prospect of a hard Brexit “adds an additional dimension”, but it was “hard to judge” whether Scotland is on an unstoppable journey to independence.
Polling shows that 67% of Scots think Johnson, who last week visited Scotland in a bid to drum up support for the Union, is doing a poor job of handling the coronavirus crisis.
Blair said: “He’s not going to be the person who is going to save the union in that sense.”
He went on to say “it’s a possibility” that support for independence would continue to rise, as there was “no proper opposition to the SNP” north of the border.
The polls put Labour trailing at third place and Scottish Tories have struggling to regain popularity since the well-liked Ruth Davidson stood down as leader.
“It’s hard to judge,” said Blair. “I don’t think it’s in the interests of Scotland to leave the UK because the ties - the economic ties, cultural ties, everything - are so strong.
“But Brexit, particularly if it’s a hard Brexit, adds an additional dimension.”
Scotland voted 62% for Remain and Johnson played a leading role in the Leave campaign.
Blair went on to say that Keir Starmer had made Labour a “politically competitive” party again.
He said: “Keir is doing a good job – a very good job actually – and I think he has put Labour back on the map. He has made them competitive again.
“He will know and we all know that there’s a long way to go before a general election and many things to be done.
“But in these months since he has become the leader, he has I think completely changed the image certainly of the Labour leadership amongst the public and he deserves respect and admiration for that.”
Asked if Starmer had made Labour a party that can win again, the former prime minister said: “He has put it in a position where it can.
“There are a whole set of questions around policy and so on that in time I’m sure and know he will come to.
“But has he made it politically competitive again which it hasn’t really been for quite a long period of time? Yes – and that is a huge step forward for the Labour Party.”
Labour has failed to win a general election since Blair left office in 2007, with Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn all failing to secure majorities.