For­mer PM asks Bri­tons to change their minds

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

LON­DON: For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair launched a new cam­paign on Fri­day to per­suade Bri­tons to change their minds about leav­ing the Euro­pean Union, ar­gu­ing that those who want to re­main should rise up and have their voices heard. Blair urged vot­ers to speak out against the gov­ern­ment's drive to exit the EU at any cost, say­ing it could dam­age fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. He ar­gued last year's vote to leave was “based on im­per­fect knowl­edge,'' and that Bri­tons voted with­out knowl­edge of the true terms of Brexit. “As these terms be­come clear, it is their right to change their mind,'' he said. “Our mis­sion is to per­suade them to do so.'' Blair ar­gued that leav­ing the 28-na­tion bloc was not in­evitable and that the peo­ple favour­ing Brexit took ad­van­tage of a mood of re­volt stem­ming in part from changes in the global econ­omy.

“The Brex­i­teers were the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this wave; now they want to freeze it to a day in June 2016,'' he said. “They will say the will of the peo­ple can't al­ter. It can.''

He plans to start an in­sti­tute and build an al­liance across party lines to cre­ate a move­ment with weight and reach to fight the no­tion of Brexit at any cost. The for­mer Labour leader said Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May's gov­ern­ment has be­come ob­sessed by Brexit to the ex­clu­sion of any other is­sue. Press­ing is­sues on chal­lenges in the modern econ­omy, the Na­tional Health Ser­vice, com­mu­ni­ties left be­hind by glob­al­iza­tion and im­mi­gra­tion con­trols are be­ing ig­nored, he said. “This is not the time for re­treat, in­dif­fer­ence or de­spair but the time to rise up in de­fence for what we be­lieve.''

It is not im­me­di­ately clear how much sup­port Blair may have. The once-pop­u­lar Labour leader suf­fered a fall from grace in sup­port­ing the United States in its in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq that led to the ouster of Sad­dam Hus­sein.

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