Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a pro-Remain minister to be in charge of Britain’s Brexit negotiations, in an article that will be interpreted as an offer to play a leading role in those negotiations himself.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Blair says that negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will require “serious statesmanship”, adding: “There is going to be a negotiation of extraordinary complexity where there are a thousand devils in every detailf.”
He also questions whether it is “really sensible” to put a pro-Brexit minister in charge of withdrawal negotiations, calling instead for the minister in charge to have a “high level sense… of the things that might be compromised, the things that are red lines”.
“The psychology of the other 27 countries is crucial to feel and shape,” the former Prime Minister adds.
Although he insists there is “not an argument for another referendum”, he goes on to say that “Britain should keep all our options open”.
“Actually the people do have a right to change their mind, but that is not for now,” he says.
He also criticised UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s speech in the European Parliament after the Brexit vote, accusing him damaging the country’s negotiations.
In his speech, Mr Farage lambasted MEPs, accusing them of being “in denial” about the failure of the single currency and efforts to tackle the migrant crisis.
“Don’t underestimate the damage having Nigel Farage address the European parliament in that way does to our interests. Remember who has to agree any new deal for Britain: the European parliament,” Mr Balir said.
“Our nation is in peril. To allow us to come safely through this we need to be adult in our politics, to proceed with calm, maturity and without bitterness; because our future as a nation in the world and as the UK itself is at stake,” he concludes.
Tony Blair’s intervention will likely be greeted with derision by ‘Leave’ campaigners. He was one of the most Europhile Prime Ministers in British history, and even tried and failed to become EU president in 2009.
While he was Prime Minister, he attempted to sign Britain up to the proposed European Union Constitution without a referendum, before the document was thrown out by French and Dutch voters.