Voters could halt Brexit with special general election, suggests Tony Blair

Voters could halt Brexit with special general election, suggests Tony Blair

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Andrew Marr Show, Tony Blair, Brexit
Former PM Tony Blair

Voters could put a stop to Brexit in a special general election held on the issue, Tony Blair has suggested.

The former prime minister said the public should be allowed to “think again” in a fresh vote to decide Britain’s future relationship with the bloc.

Mr Blair insisted there was “little doubt that Brexit is causing economic difficulty” but said it was not the only reason for allowing “the right for people to think again”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You could have an election on the issue.”

The former Labour leader said he “accepted entirely” the result of the referendum but insisted “democracy doesn’t just stop on one day”.

“I’m simply saying one very, very simple thing, which is that in 2016 you knew you wanted to get out of the European Union but you didn’t see the terms of the alternative relationship.

“If when you see those terms you think it is better to stick with Europe you are entitled to have that say.”

Mr Blair said whether voters were given a say through an election or referendum was a second order problem.

In an interview peppered with interruptions as John Humphrys challenged the former PM on his claims, Mr Blair urged the presenter to “let me finish” and “let me just explain” his case.

In robust exchanges, Mr Humphrys told Mr Blair he was “conflating two different things” when he said the NHS was facing pressures because of Brexit.

But Mr Blair insisted health service staff were leaving as a result of Brexit and the Government was not able to focus on the problems in the NHS because its focus was on preparing for exit from the bloc.

“Brexit has a massive distractive impact on dealing with the actual challenges of the country and you can see this so clearly with the National Health Service,” Mr Blair said.

Mr Blair dismissed claims he was pushing the case for the elite, telling the programme: “There are elites on both sides of the argument.”

It comes after the former PM accused Labour of timidity on Brexit and urged the party he once led to instead “make Brexit the Tory Brexit”.

Mr Blair said he disagreed with the party’s stance strategically, saying it was mistaken tactically.

“First, because the Labour Party is saying that we too would do Brexit, we cannot attack its vast distractive impact.

“Labour could mount such a powerful assault on the Government’s record from the appalling state of the NHS to crime, which through neglect and failure to support the police is on the rise again, if we were saying to the country: here’s the agenda which could be delivered for the people were it not for the fact that all the energies of Government and substantial amounts of cash are devoted to Brexit.

“And, second, it puts us in a vulnerable position when the Government concludes ’the deal’ some time in 2018.”

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