Tony Blair wants to be 'part of the debate' in British politics

The former British PM has been speaking on the 20th anniversary of New Labour's landslide election victory

Tony Blair wants to be 'part of the debate' in British politics

Picture by: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has indicated a return to a more active role in British politics, saying he wants to be "part of the debate" while expressing concern that the centre-ground is being "squeezed out" by the left and right.

Mr Blair has ruled out standing in the upcoming UK general election - but says he wants to focus on "solutions for today's world".

The comments come on the 20th anniversary of the landslide electoral victory of 'New Labour' in 1997. Mr Blair ultimately spent a decade as prime minister.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Blair rejected the idea that the Iraq War is what turned people away from Labour, describing this as "the wrong reading of history".

But while Mr Blair admitted the war "left people dismayed", he does not believe it contributed to the rise of current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He said: "Some people left the Labour Party, that's absolutely true but I don't think it was the reason why we ended up deciding that New Labour was wrong.

"I think actually the reasons are far more to do with domestic politics and to do with the politics inside the Labour Party."

The former prime minister remains convinced Saddam Hussein posed a global risk.

He said: "Personally I think that if we'd left him in power, he would have turned out like (Syrian president Bashar al) Assad, or the leader in North Korea.

"I think he would have ended up as a significant threat to the world, but you can never go back and take a different decision and see how it would have turned out."

Mr Blair acknowledged "there never are enough times to apologise" for incorrect intelligence that led to the Iraq War.

He said: "It was the intelligence we were given and by the way we were given it for a very simple reason - he was the one leader in the world who had actually used WMD since the Second World War, and had done that to devastating effect in the region with his own people."

While confirming that he won't stand as an MP, he said: "I'm sure of one thing - that I want to take part in the debate.

"I've shut the business side and transferred all the money to the non-for-profit, which was always my intention by the way, and we're creating this institute which as well as the work that I do in Africa, the Middle East is about co-existence between people of different faiths, it'll focus particular on what are the policy solutions for today's world."

He added: "I think the problem for politics is the centre-ground being squeezed out of politics, in this country particularly, is a really bad thing for British politics, because the truth is the 21st century is not about the old ideologies of left and right, it's about values that sure are about opportunities for all and about social justice, but realise that in a world whose chief characteristic is change."