Arch-Remainer Tony Blair says he would have BACKED the Brexit deal in House of Commons as he compares leaving the EU to ‘shock therapy’
- Tony Blair said he would have voted ‘tactically’ for the Brexit trade agreement
- Former PM compared leaving the EU to ‘shock therapy’ for the UK to change
- But he warned it would mean country is weaker economically and politically
Tony Blair today admitted he would have backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons – comparing leaving the EU to ‘shock therapy’.
The former PM was one of the strongest opponents of leaving the bloc, having campaigned for another referendum to cancel the decision.
However, in interviews this morning he revealed he would have joined Labour leader Keir Starmer in voting ‘tactically’ for the government’s trade agreement if he was still an MP.
The comments came as Mr Blair complained that cutting ties with Brussels would mean the UK is ‘economically weaker and with less political influence’.
But he said it did provide ‘shock therapy’ and an opportunity to take ‘big decisions’ about the direction of the country.
Asked if he would have joined a revolt against Sir Keir over the PM’s deal, Mr Blair said: ‘I would have backed (Sir Keir Starmer) on this.
In interviews today, Tony Blair admitted he would have backed Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the House of Commons
Mr Blair said he would have joined Labour leader Keir Starmer (right) in voting for the trade agreement struck by Mr Johnson (left) for ‘tactical’ reasons
‘I mean look, it’s a tactical question for the Labour Party because the problem is that it’s open to your opponents to say that if you don’t back the deal, then you’re voting for no-deal.’
Mr Blair continued: ‘There was a case for abstaining and there was a case for voting for it because the alternative’s no-deal.
‘What I’m really saying is as a decision that the Labour leader’s got to take, I don’t think it particularly matters to the Labour Party either way.
‘I think what does matter is that we’re still in a position where we’re pointing out what the problems with this deal are.’
Mr Blair said there was ‘nothing that Brexit’s going to do for Britain on its own’.
‘It’s going to leave us economically weaker and with less political influence,’ he said.
‘And so the only way I make sense of Brexit is to treat it as shock therapy, that we then realise we’ve got to take certain big decisions as a country, we’ve got to set out a new agenda for the future, but that’s going to be difficult to do.’
Mr Blair added: ‘The truth of the matter is these so-called freedoms from European regulation that Brexit’s supposed to give us, they don’t really give us anything much at all.
‘Because the truth is that decisions for Britain are and always have been resting with the British people and with the British government that they elect.
‘But what it does mean, if we just carry on having the same old political debate post-Brexit as we had pre-Brexit, we’re in a lot of trouble as a country.’
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has hailed his success in securing a smooth departure from the EU, saying the benefits included ‘substantial sums of money’ coming back to the UK.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme: ‘For instance, they’ve already got substantial sums of money coming back into this country as a result of leaving the EU.
‘We’ve got control over our borders, a points-based immigration system has already been established.
‘And then when it comes to areas in parts of the country that feel that they’ve been left behind, one of the things that you can do for instance, to say nothing more (of) the regulatory changes you can make, one of the things you can do is have free ports.’
He added: ‘You can use tax systems and subsidies in order to drive investment.’
Mr Johnson formally signed the Brexit trade deal last night as it was passed by Parliament
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