Former Labour PM says Theresa May is taking a hard line to appease Tory Brexiters
Tony Blair has said it is ‘possible’ that Britain could remain in the European Union despite the Leave result in the June referendum.
The former Labour Prime Minister said continued membership is ‘not probable’ right now but things could change, and that the referendum verdict does not mean people may not keep having the debate.
In an interview with Europe 1 conducted in French, Blair said:
‘We have done something rather bizarre with Brexit. It’s like moving house without having seen the new house.
We have made an agreement to exchange, but we don’t yet know the terms of Brexit, we don’t know the costs and the consequences.’
‘There will come a moment when we have had the negotiations and we can see the terms we are being offered by the rest of Europe and we will be able to say that it is a good idea or perhaps that it is a bad idea with major consequences.’
His intervention comes as PM Theresa May has repeated her position that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ruled out any second referendum or ‘back door’ membership.
Blair suggested this was an attempt to appease Brexiters in her party:
‘For the British prime minister its absolutely clear that its necessary for her and the unity of the Conservative Party but for us, we are free to have a debate.’
Europe has been a contentious issue in the Labour leadership contest, with challenger Owen Smith backing a second referendum or general election on the terms of Brexit, while incumbent Jeremy Corbyn says Labour must accept the result and fight to protect workers’ rights.
Blair has long been a champion of Britain’s role in the EU, crossing swords with UKIP leader Nigel Farage in 2005 the European Parliament (see below).Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.