Tony Blair: Voters Must Have Right to ‘Change Their Minds on Brexit’ After Snap Election

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair believes the election polls predicting a Labour defeat in Britain’s upcoming snap election appear “definitive”, and is calling for “a movement of informed voters who can ensure that a re-elected Tory party cannot claim a mandate for Brexit at any cost”.

In an opinion piece for former Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s Evening Standard newspaper, the Iraq War architect claimed “the polls appear to be definitive” and pointed to “a large majority” for Theresa May’s Conservative and Unionist Party after 8 June.

Some commentators have suggested that a big win could, in fact, allow Remain-voting Theresa May to pursue a “softer” Brexit, including Tory arch-europhile Anna Soubry, who believes “a bigger majority will enable the PM to see off the Hard Brexiteers”.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has also said the current parliamentary arithmetic “allows a very small cohort of people to influence the debate” unduly. She agreed that “Brexiteer bastards” would find it harder to hold the prime minister “to ransom” following an influx of pliable new MPs.

Blair disagrees:

“What [May] really wants is a free hand — but to do what? Some say it is to defeat the Tory Right so that she can go for a ‘softer Brexit’. This is naive. The opposite is true.

“At present, if she wanted to face down the Tory Right she has a Parliament with a majority to do so. What she doesn’t have is a Parliament that would vote for Brexit at any cost. … Therefore she wants a landslide majority so that there are sufficient numbers of Tory MPs who will vote to leave Europe even if the deal does not deliver ‘exactly the same benefits’ as membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.”

Blair is adamant that any deal which does not include full participation in the Single Market and its associated Free Movement regime will be “a choice between bad and downright ugly”.

“I propose that the organisations that want to keep open the right of people to change their minds on Brexit, depending on the outcome of the negotiation, come together to mobilise voters to demand from candidates a clear statement of their position on Brexit,” he wrote.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who are still highly active on this issue. There are several organisations, each with a contact base of more than 200,000 people and one with more than 500,000. Would-be MPs need to know that for significant numbers of their constituents an open mind on Brexit counts.”

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery


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