Tony Blair has refuted claims that a People’s Vote would be divisive for the people of the United Kingdom – instead arguing that the government continuing to push Theresa May’s doomed deal is worse.
The former Labour leader and prime minister wa sspeaking at a People’s Vote event when he claimed that the chances of a fresh referendum now stood at more than 50%.
He said: ‘What seemed a few months ago unlikely is now I would say above a 50% likelihood. We will go back to the people.’
Blair said that European leaders must prepare for the ‘probability’ that Britain will need to stay in the EU beyond March 2019 to allow for a second referendum.
He said: ‘Europe should prepare for the possibility now morphing into the near probability that Britain will require an extension of time to the Article 50 process, either to negotiate further or more likely to conduct a new referendum.
‘We are now entering a new phase of Brexit. Government has lost the initiative. Parliament has taken it. We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can’t then it should decide to go back to the people.
‘Now should be the time of preparation – Parliament to make sure it can canvas the options in sensible manner, one by one, to reach agreement on an option or a referendum; Europe to ensure that if Britain is ready to think again, Europe is ready also to think again.
‘All that is necessary is for leadership: in Parliament if not in government, and in Europe where despite all the myriad of challenges European leaders have, they should understand that changing Brexit would be the greatest boost to Europe’s economy and politics and that therefore, they need to focus on the part they can play and play it.’
The former Labour leader also claimed it is ‘bizarre’ that EU leaders feel obliged to deliver Brexit despite not believing in it.
‘Not one believes this course is better than Britain staying in Europe. All of them recognise that in years to come this decision will be regretted by future generations,’ he said.
‘Yet all feel a strange compulsion to carry on… Things do not need to be like this. We have free will. It is past time to exercise it. Brexit is not some form of natural disaster, Brexit is man-made.’