Vote 2017: Tony Blair says Theresa May will win the General Election

Zoe Catchpole, Political Reporter

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has told Sky News Theresa May will be Prime Minister on 9 June.

Mr Blair said he would be voting Labour at the General Election but refused to say that "hand on heart" Jeremy Corbyn was the best person to lead the country. He said that Mrs May would win the election.

Suggesting that he thought the Labour leader was a liability to the party's chances, he said that because of "the opinion polls and the leadership issue" the best election tactic for the party was to argue that a "strong opposition" was important for democracy.

However, speaking to All Out Politics presenter Adam Boulton, Mr Blair said he wasn't "telling people not to vote Labour - of course I want people to vote Labour".

When asked if he could put his hand on his heart and say that Mr Corbyn was the best person to run the country, he replied: "If the polls are right, we know who's going to be Prime Minister on 9 June. That's not the issue. "

"It'll be Theresa May if the polls are right."

:: Blair tells Brexit opponents: 'It's time to rise up'

He added: "I think the real issue is blank cheque. It's what mandate does she claim, on Brexit and on the health service and all the other things.

"I think the most powerful argument for Labour in this election - because of the way the polls are, and the way the opinion polls are and the leadership issue - the most powerful argument for Labour is to say it's important for our democracy that the Government is held to account and needs a strong opposition."

Responding to Mr Blair's comments, the Labour leader said that a sure fire win for Mrs May was not what he was finding out campaigning.

He said: "I'm out on the streets and the doorsteps and the meeting halls every day and that's not what I'm finding. I'm
finding the enthusiasm of people at the prospect of doing things differently to work for everyone and I'm enjoying it."

Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam said: "Mr Blair is trying to communicate to 16 million Britons who voted to Remain, that Mrs May's approach to Brexit is not a fait accompli, if they choose at this election.

"He has pointed out that the current Parliament would accommodate a deal that kept Britain in the single market. A new Parliament that reflected current polling would not.

"For the third of Conservative voters who voted Remain his message is that Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be PM anyway, don't endorse Mrs May's plan if you don't agree with it.

"For wavering Labour voters his message is Mr Corbyn wont be PM, and probably not leader either after the election, don't risk a weak opposition."

The former prime minister, who swept to power in a historic landslide victory 20 years ago on Monday, has made a return to British politics in the wake of the EU referendum.

:: Blair: Social media would have killed my chances of being PM

He warned that leaving the single market was the equivalent of falling out of the Champion's League and ending up in League One.

He said: "I think the big missing question that has got to be there is a question that might sound extraordinarily technical but is absolutely fundamental to the future prosperity of this country, which is in the Brexit negotiation, are we taking membership of the single market and the customs union off the table, which I think we probably are.

"If we are and we're going for a free trade agreement, rather than membership of the single market, that's a massive for the prosperity of the British economy. That's why our currency is down 15%."

He added: "What the Tories have done very cleverly is give people the national interest reason for voting Tory.

"What they've said is, the patriotic thing irrespective of your politics is to vote Conservative because she needs a strong hand in the negotiation, which is a very persuasive argument, until you realise that she's tied her hands in the negotiation, the Prime Minister, by saying, 'I'm not going to put the single market on the table'.

"People have really got to understand the difference between the single market and a free trade agreement. One's the Champion's League, the other's League One."

It has been announced that the State Opening of Parliament will take place after the election on Monday 19 June.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes