Tony Blair's speech live: Britain must 'rise up' against Brexit

  • Blair says public will “change their mind” about leaving the EU.
  • Former PM says “the immigration people most care about” is from non-EU areas such as Africa and Asia.
  • Attacks May for abusing “the mantle of patriotism”.
  • suggests Brexit result was “based on imperfect knowledge”.
  • Says Brexit will lead to break-up of UK.
  • Warns it will threaten Northern Ireland peace process.

LONDON — Tony Blair has called on the British people to “rise up” against a ‘hard Brexit’ and stop Britain leaving the EU.

“The people voted without knowledge of the terms of Brexit,” he said at an event in Central London.

“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 had been misled about what Brexit would mean and accused the prime minister Theresa May of pursuing a “Brexit at any cost” that would severely damage the economy and risk the break-up of the United Kingdom.

“This is a government for Brexit, of Brexit and dominated by Brexit. It is a mono-purpose political entity,” he said.

“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 called on his fellow Remainers to “expose relentlessly the actual cost” of leaving the EU and “show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge.”


Blair said it was highly unlikely that EU workers were taking the jobs of the British people and suggested that those who voted Leave will be disappointed when they realise that non-EU migrants, such as those from Africa and Asia, will not be barred from the UK.

“It is immigration which is driving this debate and when we boil that down we reduce it to prevention of a fraction of the overall numbers,” he said.

“There is in some parts of the country a genuine concern about numbers from Europe — real pressures on services and wages.

“But for many people, the core of the immigration question — and one which I fully accept is a substantial issue – is immigration from non-European countries especially when from different cultures in which assimilation and potential security threats can be an issue.”

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