Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told EU-supporting Brits to “rise up” against Brexit in speech on Friday, insisting it is their “mission” to persuade the public to change their mind.
Mr Blair insists the British public voted to leave the European Union based on “imperfect knowledge” and they have the “right to change their mind”.
In a speech to the Open Britain group, formed from the defeated ‘Remain’ campaign in the referendum, the former Prime Minister urged Europhiles to resist the government’s drive for “Brexit at any cost”, which he said would cause “real damage” to Britain.
“The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind,” he said.
“Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”
He also accused Prime Minister Theresa May of leading a “mono-purpose” government “dominated by Brexit”, and called on supporters to prevent a so-called Hard Brexit, where Britain leaves the Single Market, despite other EU states ruling out Britain staying in after Brexit.
“Those driving this always wanted a hard Brexit. Indeed even the term hard Brexit requires amendment. The policy is now Brexit at any cost.
“Our challenge is to expose relentlessly the actual cost, 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.
“I don’t know if we can succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try.”
Mr Blair also launched an impassioned defence of globalisation, saying: “This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe.
“How hideously, in this debate, is the mantle of patriotism abused. We do not argue for Britain in Europe because we are citizens of nowhere.
“We argue for it precisely because we are proud citizens of our country who believe that in the 21st Century, we should maintain our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market right on our doorstep; not in diminution of our national interest, but in satisfaction of it.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responded to the speech by lambasting Mr Blair’s “bare-faced effrontery”.
“I call on the British people to rise up and turn off the TV when Tony Blair next appears with his condescending campaign,” he said.