Tony Blair boasted about doing ‘minimum’ for bird flu before criticising PM | UK | News (Reports)

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Tony Blair’s vaccine proposals challenged by Baroness Boothroyd

Since he retired as Prime Minister in 2007, Mr Blair has led a relatively quiet life. Because of the inquiry over the Iraq War, security worries prevented him from attending the launch of his own memoirs. He also appears to have lost every battle he cared about or was involved in – from Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader to Britain leaving the EU.

The coronavirus crisis seems to have given him a new lease of political life, though.

Since the start of the pandemic, the former Labour leader has appeared on several morning shows and given a whole host of interviews, criticising Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response.

In June, he said the UK had been “badly hit” by coronavirus and even Government insiders acknowledged it had been too slow to lockdown.

Discussing the UK response at an event hosted by Reuters, he said: “The people who got the balance right are the people that recognise you have to lock down fast.

“And the people who will get the easing of the lockdown right are the people who realise you have to do it, who recognise you are going to be living with this disease for some time, and therefore need the right infrastructure of containment in order to make sure that you can ease responsibly.”

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Tony Blair boasted about doing ‘minimum’ for bird flu before criticising PM (Image: GETTY)

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (Image: GETTY)

More recently, he has called on Mr Johnson to use the G7 to push a global coronavirus vaccine passport scheme.

In his 2010 memoirs titled ‘A Journey’, though, Mr Blair astonishingly admitted to doing “the minimum” and with “the minimum expenditure” to prepare for the bird flu outbreak.

In 2005, a virus started spreading out of Eastern Asia and across the world.

From its origins in China, the deadly disease successfully made the leap from animals to humans, causing several fatalities in Vietnam and Thailand.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a possible pandemic and mass deaths, and around the world people started growing fearful.

However, back in Downing Street, Mr Blair dismissed the warnings and even referred to the pandemic as a “panpanic”.

He recalled: “During the run-up to the election, we nearly had a vast panic over the approaching ‘flu pandemic’.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: GETTY)

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The World Health Organisation (Image: GETTY)

“There is a whole PhD thesis to be written about the ‘pandemics’ that never arise.

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“In this case, the WHO had issued a report claiming there would be 500,000-700,000 deaths across the world.

“The old World War 1 flu statistics were rolled out, everyone went into general panic and any particular cases drew astonishing headlines of impending doom. Anyone who caught a cold thought they were part of a worldwide disaster.”

Mr Blair added: “I’m afraid I tried to do the minimum we could with the minimum expenditure.

“I understood the risk, but it just didn’t seem to me that the ‘panpanic’ was quite justified.

“And in those situations, everyone is so risk-averse that, unless you take care, you end up spending a fortune to thwart a crisis that never actually materialises.”

He noted the reaction of the system was perfectly understandable as “the first time you don’t bother is the time when the wolf is actually in the village”.

He concluded: “So you have to steer a path, taking precautions, and be ready to ramp it up if it looks like this time it’s really happening.

“But oh, the endless meetings and hype of it all.”

A source close to Mr Blair recently told day Times, the former leader is determined to emulate the comeback of former French leader Charles de Gaulle.

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Former French President Charles de Gaulle

Former French President Charles de Gaulle (Image: GETTY)

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Lord Andrew Adonis (Image: GETTY)

General de Gaulle became the provisional leader of France from 1944-1946, overseeing the end of World War 2, before leaving politics and returning as the President in 1958.

Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis has also encouraged Mr Blair to make a sensational return to the political fray in 2024.

He wrote on Twitter: “If the next election is in 2024, Tony Blair will be the only Labour leader in 50 years to have won an election. Bring him back!”

However, Lord Adonis’s post failed to convince many Twitter users.

One replied: “It’s not the Nineties anymore, and a lot of the distrust in politics, media is, unfortunately, partly Blair’s legacy.

“New Labour were the first to refuse to go on serious news programmes.”

Another one remarked: “Honestly this sort of stuff isn’t helpful and it’s drenched in stupidity.”

Mr Laschet, for his part, hasn’t come off particularly well in the COVID-19 crisis – he clashed Mrs with Merkel on calls for Germany to ease its lockdown restrictions quickly after the first wave.

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