Boris Johnson has accused Tony Blair of showing “contempt” for British voters by asking them to block Brexit, and has lambasted him over the Iraq War.
The Foreign Secretary told Sky News on Friday: “I call on the British people to rise up and turn off the TV when Tony Blair next appears with his condescending campaign.”
“Now he has the bare-faced effrontery to tell the British people that they were wrong last June. He is showing a contempt for the intelligence of the electorate,” he said.
In a speech at the City of London earlier on Friday, Blair asked Remain supporters to “rise up” and oppose the decision to leave the EU.
The former prime minister said people voted “without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit”, and said they should have the opportunity to change their minds.
But Johnson slammed Blair for his intervention, and urged the public to ignore him.
“This is the guy who dragooned the United Kingdom into the Iraq War on a completely false prospectus, with consequences which foreign ministers here are still trying to deal with,” he said.
In an impassioned speech, Blair called on the Government to give the public the option to stay in the EU if they disagree with the deal.
“Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe, and I agree the will of the people should prevail. I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to rethink,” he said.
“But the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind. Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”
“What was unfortunately only dim in our sight before the referendum is now in plain sight. The road we’re going down is not simply hard Brexit. It is Brexit at any cost.”
He warned that the break-up of the UK could be one consequence of Brexit, as could “a rancorous verdict from future generations”.
But Johnson attacked Blair’s speech, saying: “As for Tony Blair, whatever his merits as a former prime minister this is the guy who would have taken our country into the Euro with what would have been catastrophic consequences.”
“Everywhere I go I meet people who think Brexit will be a spectacular success, exactly as the prime minister has said, and who are queuing up to help us. We heard all these arguments last year. Not a thing has changed. I think it is insulting the intelligence of the British people to say they got it wrong.”