Blair urges Britons to reverse Brexit

London: Britain’s departure from the European Union is not inevitable, former prime minister Tony Blair said on Friday, calling for the creation of a cross-party movement to persuade the public they can change their minds on Brexit.
Since voting in a June 23 referendum to leave the 28-member European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to shut down any hope that the country can go back on the vote and stay in the union.
Blair, who campaigned for the Remain camp in the lead-up to the vote, said many of the claims about the benefits of an EU departure were debunked in the first week after the vote, and challenged Theresa May’s government on its commitment to leave the EU “at any cost.”
“The people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit,” Blair said, speaking in London at the Open Britain group.
“As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind,” Blair said. “Brexiteers,” or supporters of the EU divorce, were wrong to assert that the “will of the people” cannot change, Blair said.
“The one incontrovertible characteristic of politics today is its propensity for revolt. “The Brexiteers were the beneficiaries of this wave; now they want to freeze it to a day in June 2016.”
“They will say leaving is inevitable. It isn’t,” Blair said. Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May has steered a course towards a so-called “hard Brexit,” meaning a withdrawal from the EU’s single market and its free movement of persons and goods, arguing in favour of government sovereignty on the issue of migration.
Earlier this month, British lawmakers approved May’s plan to trigger formal talks on Britain leaving the EU.
Blair criticised May’s government for flip-flopping on the terms of Britain’s exit, saying Chancellor Philip Hammond’s current optimism about leaving the single market comes after declaring the same move “catastrophic” seven months ago.
“This jumble of contradictions shows that the PM and the government are not masters of this situation,” Blair said.
— dpa

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