By Bridget Daley
Former UK PM Tony Blair made an anti-Brexit speech urging Remain voters to join him in opposing Brexit, and suggesting a cross-party movement or a second referendum.
Tony Blair, who won three general elections as leader of Labour Party, has made it his mission to motivate the British people in standing up to Brexit. His speech attempted to convince Britons and members of his former Labour party that a chance remains to prevent Brexit from happening. His dominant argument was that voters did not know the full terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Nigel Farage claims Blair is ‘yesterday’s man’ and insists he should cease in opposing the democratic result of Brexit. He reminded Blair that MPs voted overwhelmingly in favor of triggering Article 50, 494 to 122, to be exact, because the people of Britain spoke and going through with Brexit is the only path to pursue.
“The road we are going down is not ‘hard Brexit’, it is now Brexit at any cost,” Blair declared in his anti-Brexit speech at Bloomberg’s Moorgate headquarters. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party rebuffed this: “I don’t quite know what Tony means there. Our party membership has more than doubled, we had a big campaign to remain and reform the European Union.”
Blair went on to blame Brexit on the internal destruction of the Labour party, offering a solution of further splitting the party in order to oppose Brexit from the place where it started. “The debilitation of the Labour party is the facilitator of Brexit. I hate to say that but it is true,” Blair stated. He also criticized Prime Minister Theresa May’s incorrigible obsession with the imminence of Brexit: “This is a government for Brexit, of Brexit, and dominated by Brexit. It is a mono-purpose political entity,” he insisted. May has not yet responded to Blair’s speech.
Blair claimed that Brexit resulted in a leave vote mostly due to the conundrum of immigration. He said leave voters were uninformed for assuming EU migrants were stealing British jobs, explaining they were “well behaved, paid their taxes, and were a net economic benefit.” He went on to further emphasize that Brexit would not ban migrants from Africa or Asia, as many falsely assumed.
Blair also denied claims that Brexit was his fault due to the liberal policy of EU immigration under his administration, claiming the only reason he was being blamed was because nobody else wanted to take responsibility for it.
Other reactions to Blair’s speech include Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s response: “I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV next time Blair comes on with his condescending campaign.” Whereas Lib-Dem Nick Clegg, a former deputy PM, claimed to, “agree with every word.”
Tony Blair, who despite winning three terms as PM, remains a controversial figure especially for his role in the Iraq War, detailed a few of Brexit’s negative effects: including high export taxes and price increases at the grocery store, progressive privatization of the NHS (National Health Service), and the need to restructure the country’s tax and welfare system. He sympathized with the Remain voters and MPs, and urged them to step up and defend themselves.