politics

‘Outstanding statesman’ Tony Blair deserves knighthood, says Michael Gove



More than one million people have signed a petition calling for him to have his knighthood, which was announced in the New Year Honours list, removed.

But the Levelling Up Secretary defended the former Labour leader on Monday, describing him as an “outstanding statesman and performer”.

Mr Gove told Sky News: “I think we should all recognise that he served this country, he continues to serve this country, and I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to be in a position like that without attracting controversy and without inviting opposition.

“If I look back at Tony Blair‘s record, while there are aspects of it with which I can disagree, I think any fair-minded person would say that he was an outstanding statesman and performer and as a prime minister put public service first. This recognition from Her Majesty is entirely appropriate.”

Mr Gove highlighted academy schools and a “crackdown on crime and antisocial behaviour” during Sir Tony’s tenure as prime minister as policies with which he particularly agreed.

Sir Tony, who was in office between 1997 and 2007, has faced opposition to his knighthood due to his record while in Number 10, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The petition on the Change.org website, which was started by Angus Scott, 55, states that Blair “caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society”.

It adds: “He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts.”



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