'Revolting' Tony Blair says 'Brexit not inevitable', calls on 'Remain' voters to rise up against the referendum outcome
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:29 UTC
Speaking in the City of London for Open Britain on Friday morning, the former Labour prime minister said his "mission" is to urge Remain voters to "rise up" against the referendum outcome, as he claimed people voted "without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit."
"Our challenge is to expose, relentlessly, what that cost is.
"To show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge, which will now become informed knowledge.
"To calculate in 'easy-to-understand' ways how proceeding will cause real damage to the country and its citizens and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff's edge."
Speaking for the pro-European campaign group, which emerged from the ashes of the Remain campaign, Blair said although he accepts the outcome of the EU referendum, he suggests reviewing the verdict when "we have a clear sense of where we're going."
Blair also took the opportunity to hit out at Tory Prime Minister Theresa May for pursuing Brexit at "any cost," warning her it could lead to a second Scottish Independence referendum, breaking up the United Kingdom.
"Indeed even the term 'hard Brexit' requires amendment. The policy is now 'Brexit at any cost,'" he said.
The former PM's comments have put him at odds with serving Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who last week told his MPs to back the government's bill to trigger Article 50, paving the way for Brexit negotiations.
The Labour Party is split on the issue, after Corbyn imposed a three-line whip on fellow MPs to assure the bill's smooth process.
Forty-seven of his own MPs defied him by opposing the bill, with Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis resigning from the frontbench in rebellion.
Blair's speech provoked outrage among pro-Brexit MPs, including former Cabinet Minister Iain Duncan Smith, who accused the ex-PM of being "deeply out of touch."
"What he really means is that he wants the British people to keep on being asked the same question again and again and again until they get it right.
"It just shows how arrogant and out of touch he and his friends in the political elite are. It's complete nonsense," Duncan Smith said.
"I suppose he learnt this disregard for democracy over the last few years from the friends he was advising in Kazakhstan."
May has criticized those trying to deny the "will of the people."
She is also striving to reassure France that the UK will not cherry-pick the best elements of EU membership.
The French senate said the UK should not be better off outside the EU once the Brexit deal is finalized.
The senate's 51-page document claims UK industries should be denied special access to the single market and that national parliaments in the EU should be given the chance to vote on a final deal for Britain's divorce from the bloc.