Tony Blair: Supporting a People's Vote on final Brexit deal is the 'obvious choice'

Chris Parsons
News Editor

Tony Blair believes supporting a People’s Vote on Brexit is the ‘obvious choice’ as he backed calls for a second referendum.

The former prime minister warned there could be a ‘paralysis in parliament’ over a no-deal Brexit as Theresa May’s proposal won’t get enough support.

Mr Blair told Bloomberg TV: ‘I think it’s possible there’s a no-deal Brexit but unlikely. I think what is actually more likely is that there is gridlock in Parliament because I don’t think the prime minister’s proposition for Brexit is likely to command a majority there.’

Mr Blair added that the ‘paralysis’ in parliament will be partly caused by Labour’s opposition to leaving the EU.

Former prime minister Tony Blair outside the BBC’s New Broadcasting House this week. (PA)
Brexit secretary Dominic Raab leaves Downing St after a Cabinet meeting this week. (PA)

He added: ‘The basic problem you have in the Brexit negotiation is you have a choice whether you stay close to Europe in order to minimise economic damage – but in which case you’ll be by some way or another, abiding by Europe’s rules – and therefore people will ask, ‘What’s the point of Brexit?’

‘Alternatively you go to a much harder Brexit where you break absolutely with Europe, in which case people will say ‘What’s the price?’ Because there will be economic damage. That dilemma has run through the course of the negotiation.

‘The Chequers statement that the Prime Minister adopted a few weeks back was an attempt to resolve that really in favour of the first option – staying close to Europe.

‘After the resignations from her cabinet, that can’t really command a majority in the House of Commons, so we’re stuck in this situation and I think it’s very possible you end up with paralysis in parliament.

Countdown to Brexit (PA)

‘That’s where the obvious course – if the government doesn’t want to call a general election – is to go back to the people.’

Mr Blair also spoke about the future of the Labour Party, and how the possible resignation of moderate lawmakers is the ‘big political question’ over the next year.

He said: ‘There is a genuine anxiety in a large part of the Labour Party today that it’s been taken over by people who are not from the normal traditions of the Labour Party.

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‘There will be some people who want to stay and fight,’ he said, while others will quit if they see no prospect of the party returning ‘to what I would call a sensible Labour position.’

Tory MPs returned to Westminster this week after summer recess, with Theresa May’s plans for Brexit under sustained attack from both wings of the party.