Tony Blair urges Brexiteers and Remainers to vote against Theresa May's 'mush' Chequers plan

Posted On: 
16th July 2018

Tony Blair has branded Theresa May's Brexit plan a "mush" that will offer Britain the "worst of all worlds".

The former Prime Minister urged MPs to "reject this solution decisively"
Credit: 
PA

The Labour former prime minister urged MPs across the House to reject the "half in/half out" solution in Mrs May's Brexit white paper, claiming it would "simply mean a confused outcome in which we continue to abide by Europe’s rules whilst losing our say over them".

The Labour big beast's intervention is significant because Brexiteers fear the Government is planning to rely on the support of opposition MPs to try and get its Brexit proposal through the House of Commons.

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But, in a piece for his Institute for Global Change group, Mr Blair called on MPs to "reject this solution decisively", and branded Mrs May's compromise a "pie in the sky" plan that would satisfy neither hard Brexiteers or those advocating for a softer exit.

"In any event until the time the pie miraculously appears on earth, it will be impossible to do trade deals elsewhere, as President Trump has just confirmed," he wrote.

"In the meantime, of course, Europe can carry on doing such deals, but we will have no say over them, though we will be bound by them."

Mrs May has been hit by a wave of resignations since finalising her Chequers compromise, with Brexiteers up in arms about plans for a "common rulebook" with the EU on traded goods and continued close customs ties with Brussels through a "UK-EU free trade area".

The Prime Minister on Sunday defended her proposals as a necessary compromise and urged her warring party to keep its "eyes on the prize" of leaving the EU.

But Mr Blair said: "The intent behind this, at least on the part of the Prime Minister, may come from a good place, but the result is an ‘inbetweener’ half in/half out mess.

"A genuine ‘soft’ Brexit would obviously be less damaging than a Hard Brexit, though it would highlight the ‘what's the point’ nature of this choice. But this Brexit is just mush.

"It is not making the best of a bad job. It is the worst of both worlds. This is where True Remainers and True Leavers make common cause."

The ex-prime minister said that "in any rational world" Mrs May would attempt to break the deadlock over her Brexit proposal by going "back to the people for resolution", and he called for a three-option second referendum allowing voters to opt for a "Clean Break, ‘soft’ or stay".

"For the Conservative Party it avoids owning a botched Brexit," he added.

"For the Labour Party it escapes constructive ambiguity becoming destructive indecision.

"For Parliament it may be the only way through."

Mr Blair's call for a second referendum offering voters three choices was echoed by former education secretary Justine Greening today.

Writing in the Times, the remain-backing former Cabinet minister said: "The only solution is to take the final Brexit decision out of the hands of the deadlocked politicians."