Feel the burn: Tony Blair and Theresa May's war of words escalates

Written by James Millar on 17 December 2018 in Diary
Diary

Former PM hits back after incumbent dissed him at the weekend

It may be the season of goodwill but the remarkable squabble between the current PM and her Labour predecessor continues to escalate. After Theresa May criticised Tony Blair over the weekend he has accused her of being 'irresponsible' and 'strange'.

At the weekend May said Blair was undermining her attempts to secure a sound Brexit deal with his support for a second referendum and by lobbying politicians in Brussels. In a particularly stinging attack she said his behaviour was "an insult to the office he once held". And she added a further diss by saying, "There are too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests."

But Blair is having none of it. He struck back today describing her public criticism 'strange'. He said, "What is irresponsible is to try to steamroller MPs into accepting a deal they genuinely think is a bad one with the threat that if they do not fall into line, the Government will have the country crash out without a deal."

He added, "I do not disrespect [Theresa May] at all. I understand her frustration. But I profoundly believe that the course she is pursuing will not work and is emphatically not in the national interest. And that's the reason I am speaking out and shall continue to do so."

Theresa May will tell MPs today that she is entirely opposed to another EU referendum. It had been rumoured that key figures in Downing Street including the PM's de facto deputy David Lidington and her chief of staff Gavin Barwell had been wargaming a number of scenarios including holding a public vote on the deal. However in extracts from her statement released by Number 10 May says such a move would 'break faith with the British people' and adds, "Another vote..would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions in who trusted in democracy that our democracy does not deliver."

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