Tony Blair reveals he has been meeting Labour MPs to rally support for second Brexit vote

Posted On: 
14th December 2018

Tony Blair has been meeting Labour MPs to convince them to back a second EU referendum, the former Prime Minister revealed today.

Tony Blair spoke at a People's Vote event in central London
Credit: 
PA

Speaking at an event for the People’s Vote campaign in central London, Mr Blair said he had been personally appealing to individual MPs on the opposition benches.

He told the audience: “I have had many meeting with Labour MPs over these past weeks.”

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The former PM said he had told Labour MPs in Brexit-backing seats that they could support a second vote on Britain’s EU membership without alienating voters.   

“I say to them – the people that are most strongly for Brexit are opposed to the Theresa May deal," he said.

“So there is literally no point in you supporting that deal, because they don’t like it either and your remain people don’t like it.”

He added: "I also say to them that I don’t think it’s a bad position to be in if you’re an MP and you say to your constituents… I’ve looked at this deal, I’ve looked at all the Brexit options, I’ve analysed all the details of this negotiation.

"I personally don’t support leaving the European Union in these circumstances, with any of these options. But you can make the final decision.

"I don’t think that is going to lose people their seats."

Mr Blair also dismissed the suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn could strike a better Brexit deal with EU leaders than Theresa May had, arguing that no government could negotiate a desirable outcome.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn would have the same problem. The dilemma is in the nature of the process. It’s not resolvable by the exercise of political will…

“It makes no difference if it’s a Labour government, a Conservative government or a divine government, it’s not going to be different”.    

The intervention sparked a backlash from within his own party, however, with Chris Williamson - an ally of Mr Corbyn blasting the ex-leader's move.

The Derby North MP told PoliticsHome: "Tony Blair's intervention is egocentric and reckless. He is effectively seeking to undermine democracy.

"If he succeeds in precipitating another referendum, it might give him some personal satisfaction, but it will bring our democracy into further disrepute and could drive support for far-right extremists. 

"So I'd like to see Tony take the advice Clem Attlee once gave to Harold Laski, namely: 'a period of silence on your part would be welcome'."

The former Prime Minister, who has long-campaigned for a People’s Vote, also appealed directly to Europe leaders, urging them to play an active part in bringing about another vote.

"Tell Britain you want us to stay," he said.