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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Tony Blair stirs the pot again

It is a peculiar sensation to find myself half-agreeing with Tony Blair, though one that I only experienced after he left office and started to find some sort of conscience. On Brexit though, the former Prime Minister is spot-on, it will be bad for the country and the Labour Party need to step up to the mark and start to provide an effective opposition.

As the Guardian reports, Blair has repeated his support for the Liberal Democrats position that the British people should have the final decision on whether the withdrawal from the EU goes ahead or not:

Describing 2018 as “the year when the fate of Brexit and thus of Britain will be decided”, Blair is open about his opposition to leaving the EU and argues that the 2016 referendum cannot be seen as binding as it contained no detail on what a post-Brexit future would involve.

Much of the 2,300-word article lambasts the Conservatives’ plans on Brexit as contradictory and confusing, saying it is absurd for ministers to pretend the UK can replicate the benefits of the EU’s single market and customs union while accepting none of the rules.

But he ends with a plea to Labour to “be on the high ground of progressive politics, explaining why membership of the European Union is right as a matter of principle, for profound political as well as economic reasons”.

Blair argues that Labour’s current ambiguity on the issue is a tactical error as it means the party cannot fully attack Theresa May’s government for neglecting issues such as the NHS and policing amid an all-consuming focus on Brexit.

The article criticises the “cake and eat it” phrases of people such as John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, who has said that although the UK must leave the single market it can remain in “a single market”.

“Far better to fight for the right for the country to rethink, 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,” Blair writes.

Meanwhile, Corbyn continues to sit on the fence and more and more former Labour members are joining the Liberal Democrats, the only Uk-wide party to have a coherent position on opposing Brexit.
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