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in-person @jpmorgan

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Tony Blair

Tony Blair

How will Brexit play out?

A no-deal Brexit I think is highly unlikely, just because it would be such a crazy thing to do. Now, politics today is pretty crazy everywhere so you, you can't, what you could have for a certainty ruled out a few years ago you can't rule out today. But I think it's highly unlikely. I think if it looked like we were tumbling towards a no-deal Brexit there are different levels of, you know, short term fix that you could have that would avoid that. I mean Europe would want to avoid it, too. And, in any event I don't think Parliament would permit it. I think the real question is whether the government tries to kind of fudge what the future Brexit deal is in order to get us the other side of March 2019.

Your take on global trade tensions?

The thing about imposing tariffs, and then you will have retaliatory tariffs and so on, is, if it stops reasonably soon because the system's had the shock that the people imposing the tariffs wanted to give it. So, for example, in relation to China, you know, China then modifies its behavior or, you know, deals with the balance of payments question that America's raising. You know, you can get through that reasonably benignly and my hope is that that's, that's what happens. The only trouble is, when you start to trigger this and you get the retaliation then you step up with further tariffs and then there's further retaliation. The risk is that it, it then does trigger a, a, a trade war. So, I kind of feel myself, that there will be a sensible enough calibration but, you know, the risks are clear.

Insights from working in Africa?

Africa's on the move. The middle class is gonna double, um, it's gonna become a much, much more vibrant place to invest and, you know, we've got to take account of this. In time to come, it's going to be a huge market with enormous potential and governance is the key. It's, it's not really aid that's the key today, it is the quality of governance but that quality's improving all the time. And it just has a completely different feel from a few years back.

What do you wish you had known while in office?

The thing that I, I wish I'd known most is that there is so much that you don't know that you don't know, OK? So, what happens in politics is that you start at your most popular and least capable and you end at your (chuckles) um, least popular and most capable. What, what is, what really happens in the journey of politics is that you realize in government how different it is for opposition, what a completely different skill set it is. If I knew then what I know now, it definitely would be better…

Note: Tony Blair laughs.

But it doesn't work like that.


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair discusses hot-button topics from Brexit to global trade tensions, and shares what he wishes he’d known when he entered office.