Blair to Call on EU to Help ‘Remain Resistance’, Claims Brexit Could Lead to Civil War

Tony Blair
Jeff J Mitchell-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Tony Blair has called on the EU to help Remain loyalists keep Britain inside the bloc, and claimed Brexit could lead to civil war.

Advancing a theme which has become popular with the so-called Remain Resistance, Blair said he found it “sickening that people should really be prepared to sacrifice peace in Northern Ireland on the altar of Brexit” on BBC Radio 4 Thursday morning.

Why the possibility of some customs duties between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit should cause the Province’s pro-separation minority to take up arms again is a question Blair and his allies have not addressed, but with the security services downgrading the threat of Republican terrorism only this morning it seems an increasingly unlikely scenario.

Indeed, Kate Hoey MP, an Ulster-born Labour MP for London, has said that suggesting the Province could explode at any time is “Insulting to people in Northern Ireland and sends a signal to men of violence”, and actually undermines the peace process.

“The problem that [Theresa May] has is that there is no way round the dilemma,” the Iraq War architect added, moving on to the topic of a British-EU free trade agreement.

“What she thinks is that it’s possible to get the European Union to give us access to Europe’s markets without the same obligations that the rest of Europe has in the Single Market.

“That is not possible. It’s not a question of a tough negotiation or a weak negotiation, it literally is not going to happen.

“So the dilemma you have is you’re either going to have to stay close to Europe to minimise economic damage, in which case you abide by Europe’s rules, or you’re free from Europe’s rules, in which case you’re going to have economic damage.”

What the former Prime Minister does not appear to consider is that remaining subject to the EU’s rules and customs tariffs also results in economic damage, by limiting Britain’s ability to forge trade links with the rest of the world — where a majority of British trade takes place — and unable to opt out of damaging regulations and third-party trade deals which are not in the national interest.

(For example, Turkey’s customs union with the EU forces it to allow cars made in Mexico — which has a trade deal with the EU — to enter its market tariff-free, while Turkish clothing exports to Mexico still face a 20 per cent charge.)

Blair is appealing directly to Brussels to help him keep Britain inside the European Union by offering “reforms” at a speech to the European Policy Centre think tank on March 1st, claiming “Reform in Europe is key to getting Britain to change its mind” and claiming the bloc must “share responsibility” for stopping Brexit.

His own attempts to persuade Brussels to reform by giving away roughly a third of Britain’s rebate on EU budget while he was in office were an embarrassing failure, with British taxpayers losing billions of pounds while promises to restructure the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) along lines less unfavourable to the UK went undelivered.

Nor does the former Prime Minister appear to be winning hearts and minds online, with a Facebook poll posted by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change asking if Britain should “leave [the EU] at whatever cost” or “stay and re-think” currently running at well over 60 per cent in favour of Brexit, despite a decidedly loaded question.

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