Blair Backs U.K. Leader May's Decision to Get Close to Trump

  • Ex-premier attacks May on Brexit but supports U.S. approach
  • Says ‘important’ for prime minister to work with president

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair attacked current leader Theresa May over her Brexit policy, but in one area he supports her: her budding relationship with Donald Trump.

May visited Trump within a week of his inauguration and drew criticism for inviting him to make a state visit to Britain. A petition against that trip got 1.9 million signatures and Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow swears he’ll block any attempt to invite the president to address Parliament.

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, right, listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as they are reflected in a mirror during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. The British prime minister is planning to pitch a free-trade deal to the new U.S. leader just as the reality of a new era of protection for American workers sinks in. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Theresa May and Donald Trump during a joint news conference in Washington, on Jan. 27.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

But Blair, who was criticized for his closeness to the last Republican president, George W. Bush, said May was making the right choice. An Ipsos-Mori poll also found 53 percent supported the invite, against 42 percent who opposed it.

Tony Blair on Feb. 17.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

“I certainly am not criticizing the prime minister for reaching out to President Trump,” the former Labour Party leader told Bloomberg Television in London after delivering a speech against the U.K. leaving the European Union. “It’s important that she builds a strong relationship.”

May might not care for a predecessor’s support on U.S.-U.K. ties given that his relationship with Bush is linked in the public mind with the invasion of Iraq, a decision that divided Britain. Blair also took several swipes at May, accusing her Conservative government of being a “jumble of contradictions.”

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