Former PM Blair urges Labour to oppose Brexit


Britain's former premier Tony Blair on Thursday has urged the Labour Party to oppose Brexit.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Blair warned that voters would not find Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's approach to EU withdrawal "credible".

Brexit "has a massive distractive impact on dealing with the actual challenges in the country," Blair said, adding British voters should be entitled to think again when the details of Brexit were clear. It was not "undemocratic" to call for a vote on the terms of an exit deal, he said.

Labour Party has backed the June 2016 referendum result to leave the EU, underlining that it was the will of British voters.

Blair said Labour should fight for the rights of voters to "think again" about leaving.

"Far better to fight for the right for the country to re-think, demand that we know the full details of the new relationship before we quit the old one, go to the high ground on opposing Brexit and go after the Tories for their failures to tackle the country's real challenges," he said.

"Make Brexit the Tory Brexit. Make them own it 100%. Show people why Brexit isn't, and never was, the answer."

In an article published on his website earlier in the day, Blair argued that the 2016 referendum could not be seen as binding as it contained no detail on what a post-Brexit future would involve. He described 2018 as "the year when the fate of Brexit and thus of Britain will be decided".

"When we voted in 2016, we knew we were voting against our present membership of the European Union, but not what the future relationship with Europe would be," he said.

Labour will become "the handmaiden of Brexit" if it continues to prevaricate and be timid over the issue, Blair added.

Britain is set to leave the EU in March 2019, ending its 44-year-long membership in the bloc.

The second phase of negotiations, which will shape the future trade arrangements between the sides, will start in March following a December agreement that sufficient progress was made in the first phase.

The members of the House of Commons passed last month an amendment to the European Union Withdrawal Bill to give a final vote on the exit deal, with the backing from 11 Conservative MPs.

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