Tony Blair says the UK ‘should keep its options open’ over Brexit

‘One of the reasons we should keep our options open is, yes, the referendum expressed the will of the people but the will of the people is entitled to change’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
@ashcowburn
Sunday 03 July 2016 16:22
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Brexit: Blair says Britain should 'keep its option open'

Tony Blair has said that the will of the people is entitled to change after Britons voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union last month.

Speaking on Sky News the former Prime Minister said that while he wasn’t advocating a second referendum or for Parliament to override the Brexit vote, he believes “as a country we should keep our options open”.

“One of the reasons we should keep our options open is, yes, the referendum expressed the will of the people but the will of the people is entitled to change,” the former Labour leader said.

“I don’t think you can override the settled will of the people but my point is very simple…supposing some weeks or months down the line, as it becomes clear what we’re moving to…as that becomes clear…we should just keep our options open.

“I’m not saying we should have another referendum, I am not saying you can revisit this. I am simply saying there is no rule about this – we are a sovereign people, we can do what we want to do. Parliament shouldn’t override the will of the people but it is also the job to express the will of the people.”

He added: “As a country we should keep all our options open because right now we don’t really know what lies on the other side.”

“It wasn’t 70-30 or 60-40, it was 52-48. Let’s be very blunt about it, some of the claims made for the Brexit case somewhat collapsed even in the week since we’ve been doing this.”

Blair asked 'why do people hate you so fundamentally'?

In a swipe at Andrea Leadsom, the junior energy minister who is emerging as a serious contender in the Conservative leadership contest, the former Prime Minister said: “You find Conservative people who were campaigning for Brexit saying a few years ago it would actually be a disaster to leave the EU. So you’ve got a very strange atmosphere around all of this.”

Asked about a delay in triggering Article 50 – the formal legal process of cutting ties with the EUMr Blair said: “Well, there will be a limit to how long we can do that. But absolutely we should keep all our options open…frankly, in my view, for as long as it takes to get an idea of what the other side looks like. What is that we’re going to agree? What is the real impact on business?”

Speaking three days before the publication of the long-awaited Chilcot report, Mr Blair refused to be drawn on the conclusions of the inquiry and said he will make his view clear when the report is published on Wednesday.

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