POLITICS
23/02/2018 14:09 GMT | Updated 23/02/2018 14:16 GMT

Tony Blair Slams 'Frankly Sickening' Calls To Scrap Good Friday Agreement

Former PM says Brexiteers willing to sacrifice peace in Northern Ireland

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Tony Blair was a key figure in brokering the Good Friday Agreement

Tony Blair has slammed Brexit-backing MPs for “frankly sickening” calls to scrap the Good Friday Agreement. 

The former Prime Minister, who brokered the 1998 Belfast accord, accused Leave backers of being “prepared to sacrifice” peace in Northern Ireland on the “altar of Brexit”. 

Prominent Tories Owen Paterson and Daniel Hannan attracted a slew of  criticism for claiming the GFA had “failed”, with remainers accusing them of trying to pave the way for a clean exit from the Customs Union.

Fellow hardline Brexiter and Labour MP Kate Hoey told HuffPost UK, meanwhile, that it was time for a “cold, rational look” at the peace deal.

Blair said: “There are politicians prepared to sacrifice the Good Friday Agreement on the altar of Brexit and declare that the peace agreed in Northern Ireland is not, really, worth having anyway. 

“This is irresponsibility that is frankly sickening.”

Power-sharing talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP broke down last week, leaving Northern Ireland without a devolved government in Stormont for a 13th month.

Hoey has faced a motion from her local Vauxhall CLP condemning her comments. 

Blair also said the Cabinet is still in “cake and eat it mode” on Brexit despite their Chequers meeting to agree a policy for trade negotiations. 

In an article attacking for his think tank the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, he hit out at the “road to Brexit” set of speeches by ministers, due to culminate on Friday with a speech from May. 

He wrote: “Each speech in this bizarre parade of Government ministers designed to show unity only further exposes the division.

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Kate Hoey has called for a "cold, rational look" at the Belfast agreement

“They all try to pull the sword out of the stone, huffing and puffing away, and all fail.

“The Chequers meeting had barely ended before each side was briefing victory and the PM unity.

“They’re basically still in ‘cake and eat it’ mode and it won’t work.

“This is because there is no escape from the binary nature of the choice over future trading arrangements.”

Blair also urged his Labour Party to oppose Brexit, as Jeremy Corbyn prepares to deliver his own key speech on withdrawal on Monday.

The former Labour leader released a study accompanying his article showing that Brexit will cause economic pain, and that the UK needs most categories of EU migrant, adding: “It is good that the Labour Party position is ‘evolving’. But it must align it fully with its policy programme.

“To carry on pretending that there is Brexit and then, separate from Brexit, there is the NHS, education, crime etc. is ridiculous.

“If the evidence we present in this paper of all the economic forecasts is only half right, Brexit will reduce the scope for Government spending dramatically.

“The paper shows we are already losing vital European staff from the NHS.

“We are already suffering lower growth.

“The last thing Britain could sensibly do is to leave Europe and then pursue a sort of leftist version of the European social democracy it had just abandoned.”