Brexit

Former British PM Tony Blair warns Western democracy is in peril

Greg Palkot reports from London

 

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, warned of what he saw to be “perilous” times for Western democracies after seismic events like like Brexit and the recent defeat of Italy’s reform referendum that led to the country’s premier to announce his resignation.

“It does feel perilous, actually, because I think there are decisions that are being taken of vast moment in circumstances where systems are fragile,” Blair told USA Today. “And that is troubling.”

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He said he is more concerned about Europe than the U.S., pointing out that the U.S. has checks and balances and a strong economy.

"In Europe, we have systems that are at a point of fragility that troubles me," he said.

Blair was in Washington to attend a conference, talked about the populist movement and it’s rejection of what was considered the status quo.

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"There is immense amount of anger at established ways of doing things," Blair said. "There is, I think, a whole group of people who feel ignored by those in power, that is for sure true. There is more anger around in politics than for a long time." While issues such as immigration aren't new, there is "much greater skepticism towards globalization and the benefits of it."

Meanwhile, the EU's chief negotiator on Brexit warned Tuesday that the country would have less than 18 months once talks begin and that it won't be allowed to pick and choose what parts of the EU it wants to keep.

While steering away from specifics on what a Brexit deal might look like, Michel Barnier, who took up his post months ago after Britain voted in June to leave the EU, said formal procedures at the start and the end of the talks will cut into the time Britain has to leave the 28-nation bloc.

On Sunday, Italian voters dealt Premier Matteo Renzi a stinging defeat on his reforms referendum, triggering his resignation announcement and galvanizing the populist, opposition 5-Star Movement's determination to gain national power soon.

"I lost, and the post that gets eliminated is mine," Renzi said early Monday about an hour after the polls closed. "The government's experience is over, and in the afternoon I'll go to the Quirinal Hill to hand in my resignation" to President Sergio Mattarella.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.