Tony Blair has said there should be a second referendum to reverse the “catastrophe” of Brexit if people want one.
The former prime minister said on Friday morning the UK should “keep our options open” when it came to leaving the EU - despite June’s vote which saw the public choose to leave.
“If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn’t make it worth our while leaving, or a deal that is so serious in its implications that people may decide they don’t want to go, there’s got to be some way, either through parliament, through an election, possibly through a referendum, in which people express their view,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“There is no reason why we should close off any options,” he said. “The country has taken a decision in a referendum, there is no way that decision can be reversed, unless it becomes clear once people see the facts they change their mind.”
Blair also repeated his criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, but rejected the suggestion he would quit Labour. “I am not suggesting new poltical parties, I’m Labour, I’ll stay Labour,” he said.
“This is a decision of those who are active in politics now. My view simply is this, if you end up in situation where the political choice is between a hard Brexit Tory party and a hard-left Labour Party, there are millions of people who feel politically homeless,” he said.
The former prime minister and Labour leader said it would be “a tragedy if we end up as a country with two competing visions of the 1960s”.
“If the Labour Party can get back to a more centrist position then I feel we are in a better position to win an election,” he said.
“There has never been a time I can recall since the first time I came into politics where they have been so many people who feel a sense of disenfranchisement.”
Brexit campaigners dismissed Blair’s suggestion of a second referendum. Ukip MP Douglas Carswell tweeted: “Tony Blair sides with those is SW1 and at BBC seeking to delegitimise and reverse referendum result.”
Writing in the New European today, Blair said Theresa May believed “the sharp turn to the Left under Labour’s leadership will mean that the Labour Party struggles to be a credible alternative Government and therefore an effective opposition” and so the government can “do more or less what they want”.
“We have to respect that people voted as they did. But we have to believe in the people’s innate sense, that they’re also open to a better argument in the light of the facts as they come to light,” he said.
“We have to recognise we’re the insurgents now. We have to build the capability to mobilise and to organise. We have to prise apart the alliance which gave us Brexit.”
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