Boris Johnson: Voters should 'rise up and turn off the TV' when Tony Blair is on

Posted On: 
17th February 2017

Boris Johnson today accused Tony Blair of "insulting the intelligence of the electorate" by suggesting they had been duped into backing Brexit.

Boris Johnson has hit back at Tony Blair's anti-Brexit speech.
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary spoke out after Mr Blair said voters had voted to Leave in last year's referendum "without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit".

Speaking in London this morning, the former Prime Minister said pro-EU campaigners should use "easy to understand" language to make their case against quitting the bloc.

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He also called on Remain supporters to "rise up" against Brexit in an attempt to overturn the referendum result.

But Mr Johnson said: "We heard all these arguments last year. Not a thing has changed. And I think it really is insulting the intelligence of the electorate to say that they got it wrong.

"Be in no doubt that the people of this country were told all sorts of absolute claptrap about the economic consequences of leaving the EU. They were told there would have to be a punishment budget, they were told the economy would go off a cliff - the very opposite has happened.

"As for Tony Blair, whatever his merits as a former Prime Minister, this is the guy who would have taken our country into the Euro with what would have been catastrophic consequences. This is the guy who dragooned the United Kingdom into the Iraq war on a completely false prospectus with consequences which foreign ministers are still trying to deal with.

"So I respectfully say to Tony Blair, those who call on the British people to rise up against Brexit - I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV next time Blair comes on with his condescending campaign."

Another prominent Leave campaigner, Michael Gove, said: "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. 

"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."

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told 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. There's 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 on Twitter.


However, Mr Blair did win the support of senior political opponents who share his backing for the EU.