Tony Blair is pitching to the Tories in plea to stop Brexit

Written by James Millar on 29 March 2018 in Diary

Former PM warns the Tories are 'going down' but he won't say if replacing them with a Corbyn government is a good thing

Tony Blair has been doing the rounds with one year to go until Britain leaves the EU and he's been committing news all over the place.

After telling the Today programme on Radio 4 that he thought stopping Brexit was 'more likely now than it was a few months ago' he spoke at the annual conference of think tank UK in a Changing Europe.

He told the London audience that Theresa May was indulging in 'cakeism' by suggesting the UK could both diverge from EU rules and maintain frictionless trade.

In a thinly veiled pitch to Tory moderates he explained the the Conservatives would lose at the next general election and usher in a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn if they vote through the government's Brexit deal in the autumn. He dismissed shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry's comments yesterday that Labour would likely vote for the deal even if it only amounted to 'blah,blah, blah' and insisted Labour won't support it. He said: "If they drive through the Brexit deal it will be 100% owned by the Tories," and argued that come the general election due in 2022 "The 17 million who voted for Leave will be short on gratitude and the 16 million who voted for Remain will be long on memory."

"The Tories are in danger of going down," he added.

However he refused to share his thoughts on the prospect of a Corbyn administration. He said: "Leaving aside the wisdom of a Corbyn government. I won't be drawn on this... today."

Blair is stepping up his campaigning for a second referendum on the Brexit deal which he believes is winnable. He said of recent opinion polls showing little change in voters' views "My instinct is that there is some movement".

And he spoke about the reaction he gets when travelling the world since Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU. "The rest of the world do not see this as globally ambitious Britain. They think 'Lord, the Brits, they were always common sense people'," he said.

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