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

Posted On: 
17th February 2017

Tony Blair will today call on Remainers to "rise up" and persuade voters who backed Brexit that Britain should stay in the European Union.

Tony Blair insists the result of last year's referendum can be overturned.
PA Images

The former Prime Minister will say they have a "mission" to make Leavers change their mind - and warn that the future of the UK is at risk if they fail.

In a speech for pro-EU group Open Britain, Mr Blair will also mount a stinging attack on Theresa May and her "government for Brexit, of Brexit and dominated by Brexit".

Tim Farron held talks with Tony Blair about Brexit

Labour MPs demand party defends Tony Blair over SNP Iraq criticism

Tony Blair says Brexit vote 'can be reversed' as he rules out return to frontline politics

He will say: "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."

Mr Blair will add: "Those driving this always wanted a hard Brexit. Indeed even the term hard Brexit requires amendment. The policy is now Brexit at any cost.

"Our challenge is to expose relentlessly the actual cost, to show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge, to calculate in easy to understand ways how proceeding will cause real damage to the country and its citizens and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge.

"I don't know if we can succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try.

"This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe."

In a direct attack on Mrs May, who used her Tory conference speech to attack "citizens of nowhere", the ex-Labour leader will say: "How hideously, in this debate, is the mantle of patriotism abused.

"We do not argue for Britain in Europe because we are citizens of nowhere. We argue for it precisely because we are proud citizens of our country who believe that in the 21st century, we should maintain our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market right on our doorstep; not in diminution of our national interest, but in satisfaction of it."


Mr Blair will also say that the break up of the UK "is now back on the table but this time with a context much more credible for the independence case".

"We are already seeing the de-stabilising impact of worry over border arrangements on the Northern Ireland peace process," he will say.