Tony Blair: New Labour leader shouldn’t campaign to rejoin EU

PUBLISHED: 13:07 20 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 20 February 2020

Former prime minister Tony Blair during a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Labour party. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Former prime minister Tony Blair during a speech to mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Labour party. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Remain-backing former prime minister Tony Blair says that the next Labour leader should not campaign to rejoin the EU for the time-being.

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Blair was speaking at a 120th anniversary of the Labour Party when he said the party could have stopped Brexit if it was "a serious opposition", but said that now it had to focus on uniting the country.

"On the Brexit side of things I am really willing to listen to both sides of the argument. I am willing to really listen to what people are saying about it.

"I think in a curious way Boris Johnson and I have the same position which is I don't think you can ever unite the country over Brexit.

"You can unite them after Brexit.

"If we had stopped Brexit which I think we could have done if we had a serious Opposition, you would immediately then have to deal with all the problems that arose from Brexit.

"You would have had to take a whole series of measures to make sure you were pulling those people back towards having in a sense alienated them by not doing Brexit.

"I think what Boris Johnson is doing is wrapping it around the other way.

MORE: Blair claims all Labour leadership contenders 'significant improvement' on Corbyn

"He's going to do Brexit and reach out to all these northern places and try and keep those Brexit people with them."

Asked about the next Labour leader campaigning to rejoin the EU, the former party leader dismissed the suggestion.

"No, you just can't, I'm afraid," he said.

But he did not rule out a future effort once Brexit had been given 'a chance'.

He continued: "In the long term, who knows? The Tories will own Brexit whatever happens and I think you've got to give it a chance to be done."

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