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Blair: Still a chance to stop Brexit

16 July 2017

In his latest foray into the Brexit debate, the former prime minister said the election of French President Emmanuel Macron had opened up the prospect of real change in Brussels which could enable Britain to stay in the bloc.

The former prime minister claimed that if the United Kingdom didn't abandon the single market, European leaders would be willing to relax their stance on freedom of movement - one of the central principles of single market membership - and let Britain have control.

"The French and Germans share some of the British worries, notably around immigration, and would compromise on freedom of movement".

"European leaders, after discussions that I have had, are willing to consider changes to go in the direction of the United Kingdom, including the freedom of movement".

The criticism that Mr Blair was out of step with the public was echoed by Robin Walker, a Brexit minister, who said: "The majority of British people voted to leave the EU".

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"I pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn's temperament in the campaign, to the campaign's mobilization of younger voters and to the enthusiasm it generated", Blair, normally a Corbyn critic, said. On freedom of movement, the principle is indivisible.

Many Western EU leaders are indeed concerned to limit free movement only to workers - as specified in the EU treaty.

He suggests Britain could team up with other Eurosceptic countries to form an "outer circle" of the EU.

"However, this option is excluded", regretted the former Prime minister in an article for his think-tank Institute for Global Change.

They nonetheless agreed to a special deal for Cameron to give Britain special rights to curb European Union immigration, but that deal was rendered moot by the Brexit vote.

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"Rational consideration of the options would sensibly include the option of negotiating for Britain to stay within a Europe itself prepared to reform and meet us halfway", Blair wrote. And in Britain, the Conservative government suffered a setback in last month's election.

Tony Blair has warned that the combination of Brexit followed by a Jeremy Corbyn government would soon leave Britain "flat on our back", arguing that a deeply divided country needs a fundamental rethink of its political ideas.

"We do recognise the results of the referendum of a year ago", Corbyn told Sky News.

Blair warned the party he led for 13 years that, however unexpectedly good the party's showing in the 8 June election, it could not automatically expect victory soon.

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Blair: Still a chance to stop Brexit