Published: Sun, July 16, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Tony Blair: EU leaders willing to be flexible on free movement

Tony Blair: EU leaders willing to be flexible on free movement

In an essay for his own Institute for Global Change, Mr Blair - the last Labour leader to win a general election - claimed Britain would be "out for a long count" if Brexit was followed by Mr Corbyn entering Downing Street.

The march toward Brexit was being driven by longstanding political divisions with in the Conservative Party, he said. "The opposition to free movement of people, once you break it down, is much more nuanced".

"I think it's absolutely necessary that it doesn't happen because I think every day is bringing us fresh evidence that it's doing us damage economically", Blair said, in a preview of Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

In comments which have angered some British politicians, Mr Blair suggested that the tide of public opinion was turning against the idea of Brexit and that it was "absolutely necessary" for the United Kingdom stay inside the EU. "The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement", added Blair, saying the 27 remaining EU members will stick together in defending the rules of the Single Market.

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"By calling for the will of the people and Parliament to be overturned, Tony Blair is demonstrating once again that he is out of touch".

Many Western EU leaders are indeed concerned to limit free movement only to workers - as specified in the EU treaty.

Blair said in interviews that the option of reversing Brexit must be kept on the table, claiming large numbers of the population do not back a so-called hard exit of the EU.

Blair, who hailed from the Labour Party, suggested in the article that European Union leaders might compromise and be willing to "reform and meet us half way" to stop Britain from leaving the bloc. He won three successive elections for the Labour Party, but many have not forgiven him for joining the US-led Iraq War.

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"Rational consideration of the options would sensibly include the option of negotiating for Britain to stay within a Europe itself prepared to reform and meet us half way".

Responding to Mr Blair's intervention, Mr Corbyn insisted one of his predecessors as Labour leader was "perfectly entitled to give any opinion he wishes, as is anybody else".

Corbyn rejected this. "I think our economy will do very well under a Labour-led government because it will be an investment-led economy that works for all", he told BBC News.

"I hope Tony Blair and everybody else recognises that is what our position is and that we do recognise the results of the referendum a year ago".

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