Tony Blair during the dedication and unveiling of The Iraq and Afghanistan memorial on March 9, 2017 in London, England.
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Updated: May 1, 2017 6:14 AM ET | Originally published: May 1, 2017 6:06 AM EDT

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced his return to politics, out of concern at the economic consequences of Brexit.

“This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics,” he told The Mirror, in an article published the day before the 20th anniversary of his landslide victory in the 1997 general election on May 1. “You need to get your hands dirty and I will.”

The former leader of the Labour Party does not plan to stand for a parliamentary seat, but says he has been motivated to return to the political battlefield by Conservative politicians who are keen to deliver “Brexit no matter what the cost.” That kind of hard Brexit—where Britain loses access to the single market and the customs union— will damage the country’s economy, he said. “The single market put us in the Champions League of trading agreements” he told the Mirror, using a soccer metaphor. “A free trade agreement is like League One. We are relegating ourselves.”

The 63-year-old’s desire to return to politics is also driven by a need to address “a world defined by change,” he said, and he hopes to reconnect with voters in a bid to take “an active part” in shaping the “policy debate.”

“There are cultural stresses, people are worried about immigration, the way their communities have changed, economic stresses, people are worried about the quality of their job … whether they will have a job” he told the Mirror.

Polls suggest the Labour Party will be beaten heavily in the British general election in June, as Prime Minister Theresa May seeks to consolidate her power ahead of Brexit negotiations.

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