Tony Blair: EU should prepare for 'probability' of second Brexit referendum
Europe should begin preparations for the "near probability" of another Brexit referendum, Tony Blair will claim today.
The fomer Prime Minister will say that Article 50 will have to be extended to help pave the way for a so-called 'People's Vote'.
Speaking in central London, Mr Blair will say that Theresa May's goverment "has lost the initiative" and it was now up to Parliament to decide what should happen next.
The ex-Labour leader will say his preference is for another referendum, but insisted EU leaders must also respond to the concerns of those who voted to Leave in the orginal vote in 2016.
Mr Blair will say: "We are now entering a new phase of Brexit. Government has lost the initiative. Parliament has taken it. We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can't then it should decide to go back to the people.
"Now should be the time of preparation – Parliament to make sure it can canvas the options in sensible manner, one by one, to reach agreement on an option or a referendum; Europe to ensure that if Britain is ready to think again, Europe is ready also to think again.
"All that is necessary is for leadership: in Parliament if not in government, and in Europe where despite all the myriad of challenges European leaders have, they should understand that changing Brexit would be the greatest boost to Europe’s economy and politics and that therefore, they need to focus on the part they can play and play it.”
He will add: "Whatever is the proper interpretation of the mandate of June 2016, it cannot seriously be said to be ‘no deal’. And Parliament has rightly set its face against such an outcome.
"Therefore, to insist that we crash out with all the disastrous implications of such a thing, rather than put the matter back to the people, would be an extraordinary dereliction of duty. I don't see it happening for that reason; which is why it is completely perverse to spend time – Europe and the UK Government - in preparation for ‘no deal’ rather than a new vote."