Tony Blair: Why rule out a second EU referendum?

Posted On: 
26th June 2016

Tony Blair has suggested the Government should not close the door to a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

Former prime minister Tony Blair
Credit: 
PA Images

The former prime minister said the public needs to see the “consequences” of the new “reality” they voted for before ruling out a second vote.

Mr Blair said a number of factors, including the effect on the markets, business and the border agreement with France, should be taken into account.

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His intervention comes after more than 2.5m people signed a petition urging the Government to hold another plebiscite on Britain’s position in Europe.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, Mr Blair said while a second vote is unlikely after Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%, it should not be off the table.

“As I’m looking at it here, I can’t see how we can do that. But you know, the point is why rule anything out right now? You might as well, as I say you’re going to have a reality to test yourself against,” he said.

“So, for example, in the last few days obviously there has been this vast crash in the financial markets…the pound has obviously fallen dramatically, but maybe that steadies itself in the days to come.

“The British people need to see that reality, the Europeans need to see that reality, maybe as we get into it there are companies that say ‘look, we are perfectly happy, we can live with this new arrangement’, some may say ‘well we can’t’. So we need to see consequences.”

He said another matter of interest was the fate of the agreement that sees the UK’s border checks carried out on the French side of the Channel.

The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, has called for a review of the arrangement.

Mr Blair suggested that if the French pulled out of the bilateral deal, which has been in place since 2003, that could influence another referendum.

"We need to see, for example, who’s going to win that battle in the French politics between those who say the border should go back to Dover now, or the border’s going to stay in Calais. That’s an important consideration."

He added: “So all of these things I think allow us now to be now we’re going to see the new home, we’re going to look at it, we’re going to test it, we’re going to be going round it, we’re going to be seeing what it really means.

“And so, in a sense, what I’m saying is we have a divided country, but I think there is the possibility of bringing people back together if we’re sensible about it and don’t let our sort of dismay on either side of this argument get the better of our judgment.”

DAVID LAMMY

Yesterday backbench Labour MP David Lammy called for Parliament to override the result of the EU referendum.

He said the Commons could “stop this madness” and vote to keep Britain inside the European Union.