Tony Blair blames Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit

Posted On: 
17th February 2017

Tony Blair has hit out at Jeremy Corbyn over Brexit, saying the Labour party's weakness in the polls had helped to "facilitiate Brexit".

Tony Blair delivering his speech this morning
Credit: 
PA

The former Prime Minister also blamed a "cartel" of right-wing newspapers for whipping up hostility to the EU and skewing the broadcasters' news agenda.

He spoke out in a keynote speech in which he also insisted that Brexit was not "inevitable" and called on pro-Remain campaigners to "rise up" against the referendum result.

READ: Tony Blair's FULL speech calling on people to 'rise up' against Brexit

Labour falls 12 points behind the Conservatives in Scotland

Tony Blair: It is time to 'rise up' against Brexit

But it was his thinly-veiled attack on Mr Corbyn's leadership which raised eyebrows.

"The second challenge is the absence of an Opposition which looks capable on the polls of beating the Government," he said. "The debilitation of the Labour Party is the facilitator of Brexit. I hate to say that, but it is true.

"What this means is that we have to build a movement which stretches across Party lines; and devise new ways of communication."

He argued that voters had not known what Brexit would entail when they cast their vote on 23 June, saying:

"The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind.

"Our mission is to persuade them to do so."

LEAVER BACKLASH

His words sparked a predictable tide of complaint from Brexiteers, with prominent Leave campaigner Michael Gove accusing him of trying to defy the voice of the British public.

"When he won the general election in 2005 he had 9.5 million votes and a 2.8% margin of victory over the Conservatives but he believed then that this mandate was enough to take the EU into the Lisbon Treaty, enough to give an extra £7 billion to Brussels when he agreed to cut our rebate, enough to agree to open our borders to new EU countries with no controls, and enough to hand over power to Gordon Brown," Mr Gove said. 

"Politicians like Tony Blair should respect the result and work with the Government to make a success of Brexit instead of trying to undermine British democracy."

His fellow Tory Iain Duncan Smith also hit out, telling BBC News: "It ill behoves Mr Blair to come back into this and start lecturing everybody about how they didn't really know what they were voting on. The'res a kind of arrogance to that really that suggests the Britsih peopel aren't capable of making a decision. After all they manage to elect their governments, don't they?"

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage also weighed in with a tweet.