Tony Blair, the former Labour leader who was Britain’s prime minister from 1997 to 2007, is urging voters not to elect politicians who “back Brexit at any cost.”
Blair told BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit policy is “unreasonable” and said that even though it is likely the Conservatives will win the general election on June 8, a big Labour vote would constrain her plans.
This is because a party in government with a small majority will have to seek support from opposition politicians to ensure proposals are voted in. Even if Labour doesn’t win, a better than expected result could force May to compromise on key Brexit issues.
However, Blair said he “wasn’t totally sure” what Labour’s position was on Brexit.
“The point is whether I’m Labour or I’m not Labour – even if there’s Conservatives or Liberal Democrats – I will work with anyone to get this argument across in the country,” he said.
He also hinted at returning to politics, saying: “I look at the British political scene at the moment and I actually almost feel motivated to go right back into it. We’re just allowing ourselves to be hijacked by what is actually quite a small group of people with a strong ideology.”
We’re just allowing ourselves to be hijacked by what is actually quite a small group of people with a strong ideology.
“The people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit,” he said at an event in London in mid-February.
“As the terms become clear it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”
He suggested the public was misled about what Brexit would mean and accused Prime Minister Theresa May of pursuing a “Brexit at any cost” that would severely damage the economy and risk the break-up of the UK.
“This is a government for Brexit, of Brexit, and dominated by Brexit. It is a mono-purpose political entity. Those driving this always wanted a ‘hard Brexit.’ Indeed even the term ‘hard Brexit’ requires amendment. The policy is now ‘Brexit At Any Cost’,” he said.
Britain voted by a slim majority to leave the EU on June 23 last year. Since then, Prime Minister Theresa May has said she’s very likely to pull the nation out of the EU’s Single Market in exchange for full control over immigration — the latter being a key issue for many of those voting for Brexit. Exiting the EU’s Single Market is termed as a “hard Brexit.”
At the weekend, prominent Tory politician Michael Gove, who was a central figure in the Brexit campaign, told Business Insider that the way the public can help shape a different type of deal is by keeping the “frankly incompetent” leader of the opposition party Labour out of government.
“Ultimately whatever you think about the type of Brexit you want, in Theresa [May] you have someone who listens, in Jeremy Corbyn you have someone who is frankly incompetent and in a seat like Croydon who some may vote Liberal Democrat, [it] risks letting Labour in. And you can’t have that,” said Gove, who has been an MP for Surrey Heath since 2005 and was Secretary of State for Justice from 2015 to 2016.
How will you vote? Vote in Business Insider’s poll here:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.