https://aiwa.press/2019/02/28/britains-labour-party-leader-backs-brexit-referendum/

Tony Blair ‘Staying In The Labour Party’ Despite ‘Courageous’ TIG Breakaway

Tony Blair: Tony Blair says he is staying in the Labour Party despite having a "great deal of sympathy" with breakaway MPs.
Tony Blair says he is staying in the Labour Party despite having a “great deal of sympathy” with breakaway MPs.

Tony Blair: “I am staying in the Labour Party”; says he is ‘deeply concerned’ about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – Rachel Wearmouth; Huffpost

BBC Politics@BBCPolitics

The former Labour leader Tony Blair tells #Marr he is “deeply concerned” after nine MPs left the party http://bbc.in/2VfVUVI 17310:36 AM – Mar 3, 2019302 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Tony Blair has said the Independent Group (TIG) of breakaway MPs are “courageous” but he will stay in Labour as he is “deeply attached” to the party. 

Blair, a long-standing critic Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, denied he was involved with TIG MPs’ plan to split the party but said he had “sympathy” with them. 

Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he added: “I’m in touch with them and I have spoken to some of them.

“I’ve got a great deal of sympathy with what they’re doing and what they’re saying.”

Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and others cited Corbyn’s delay in taking a more pro-EU stance and the party’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism as among the reasons for splitting away. 

It comes amid speculation more Labour MPs could be tempted to leave Labour to sit with the new group, for which Streatham MP Chuka Umunna is spokesman and three pro-EU Tory MPs joined last week. 

Blair said he hopes to “bring the Labour Party back” to the centre ground. 

He added: “I’m staying in the Labour Party. I’ve been in the Labour Party for over 40 years, I led it for 13 years, I was longest-serving Labour prime minister, I’m deeply attached to the Labour Party.

“But do I sympathise with what they have done? Yes, I do. I think they’re courageous in having done it.”

Blair said he is “deeply concerned” about Labour’s direction and policy, adding: “If you want to get back to winning ways, this is not the position to be in.”

He said he believed Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has “shown really great leadership” in recent weeks. 

It comes amid reports Watson has set up a social democratic group within the party that will come up with policy ideas. 

The deputy has also clashed with the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby over how anti-Semitism complaints are handled. 

Blair added: “As a result of what he’s doing, he’s encouraging people who do share a perspective of the Labour Party as a governing, modern, progressive party, he’s actually encouraging them in a sense to stay because he’s providing a space within which people can debate and argue.”

The former PM also welcomed Labour’s switch to backing a second referendum on Brexit. 

Blair added: “I think it’s absolutely inevitable that if you put the choice before the country – hard Brexit Tory party, hard-left Labour Party – it doesn’t matter what I say, what I want to happen, what anyone else says, you leave that amount of fertile territory open, someone is going to cultivate it.”

RELATED…

Advertisements

BREXIT HAS HEADACHES! From triggering to extending Article 50, there’s a scarcity of good news & options for the embattled May

Brexit headache: Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Peter Bone at the launch of a report claiming the UK economy would be better off with a hard Brexit. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Brexit headaches: Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Peter Bone at the launch of a report claiming the UK economy would be better off with a hard Brexit. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

|AIWA! NO!|Two and a half years on from the decision to Brexit, there is no greater clarity about what that actually means nor the form it will actually take.

What has become clear in the interim is that Britain’s political class is hopelessly and haplessly divided, devoid of political leaders on either side of the benches with sufficient stature, cunning and guile to navigate a clear course ahead.

READ LINKED: Brexit: The incurable British headache that won’t go away

On the BBC’s Inside Politics programme tonight, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern didn’t hold back with a withering assault on Theresa May for calling an unnecessary election and failing to properly engage with other party leaders to build support for her stance. But his main criticism was of her decision to start the countdown to Brexit by moving on Article 50 at a time when there was no clear plan nor sense of where the British government (and parliament) was headed:

The biggest mistake of all was triggering Article 50 before you had worked out the strategy, which was absolutely senseless, not necessary and has by and large led to where we are today.

His one-time partner at the helm of Anglo-Irish relationships, Tony Blair, is now publicly calling for the extension of Article 50 to buy more time. Given the absence of clear direction from Downing Street and Westminster, there is more than a little sense in Blair’s recommendation, not least given that each day is now bringing leaks of governmental advice and preparations for a No Deal Brexit that is escalating tensions across Ireland, Britain and the EU.

Yet there was a compelling reason for Theresa May moving to trigger Article 50 when she did.

By making March 29th 2019 the final date of British involvement in the EU, she ensured that the European elections scheduled for May 2019 could take place without Britain, with just over a third of the former UK MEP seats distributed proportionally across the EU (including two additional seats for the Republic of Ireland), with the remainder being held back for future expansion countries.

Whilst it is conceivable that the EU could agree to an Article 50 extension that ran during the course of the forthcoming European Parliament elections in May, it would be very difficult for them to agree to an extension beyond July as this is when the newly elected MEPs would take their seats. Anoosh Chakelian (New Statesman) believes there are specific circumstances in which the EU might consider that:

It’s thought the EU would only be willing to grant a longer extension beyond July if it were for the sake of making time for a general election or a second referendum – rather than simply letting discussions carry on or as a time-buying exercise.

In the scenario of a general election or referendum, the UK would have to write to the EU requesting an Article 50 extension, all member states would have to agree, and then the UK government would need to pass legislation to change the EU Withdrawal Act, in which the 29 March date is enshrined in law.

Mark Urban at the BBC has gone further, indicating that France and Germany are considering giving Britain an extra year.

Ironically, in this part of the world we are well used to kicking for extra time as a means to avoid an impending crisis. But our own experiences also show that extra time does not equate to resolving problems.

Extra time or no’, something’s gotta give.

Chris Donnelly

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Of course Tony Blair has every right to offer his opinion on Brexit. Anybody has that right, at least at this rate. Theresa May shouldn't be bothered about this for as long she has a handle on the BIGGER picture - Brexit on a good deal.  Yes! The Prime Minister had a privileged upbringing and always got her own way - but again let her have her own way on BREXIT because she is the best of the Torys left as far as we are aware and based on the situation the last time we checked.

Theresa May Is All We Got Left For Meaningful Brexit

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|Of course Tony Blair has every right to offer his opinion on Brexit. Anybody has that right, at least at this rate.

Theresa May shouldn’t be bothered about this for as long she has a handle on the BIGGER picture – Brexit on a good deal. And on good time.

 Yes! The Prime Minister had a privileged upbringing and always got her own way – but again let her have her own way this time on BREXIT –  because she is the best of the Torys left as far as we are aware and based on the situation the last time we checked. And because our collective lives on this island depends on it.

Not so sure how much credibility she has left or she has lost; but she is solid, committed and principled to some point. And it is better.

Is the Prime Minister actually an insult to the office she holds? NO! Amidst all the political cacophony and sniping; she has demonstrated intellect., statesmanship and stamped her feet on gas when she needed to.

Full throttle!

|Zoe Drewett, METRO|AIWA! NO!|Theresa May launched a vicious attack on former prime minister Tony Blair for calling for a People’s Vote, accusing him of ‘undermining’ her Brexit talks. She said Mr Blair was ‘insulting’ the British people and warned a second referendum would amount to Parliament abdicating responsibility. Her furious criticism came amid reports some of her most senior allies in the Cabinet are secretly planning for exactly that – a second vote on the final terms of the deal.

May’s attack on Blair shows strain is taking its toll

Daily Express
Theresa May SLAPS DOWN Tony Blair as he tries to rally Remain 'insurgency' against Brexit | Politics | News | Express.co.uk

Daily ExpressTheresa May SLAPS DOWN Tony Blair as he tries to rally Remain ‘insurgency’ against Brexit | Politics | News | Express.co.uk

David Hannay is a member of the House of Lords and former UK ambassador to the EU and UN.

Theresa May’s latest outburst against Tony Blair’s support for a further referendum on Brexit shows that the strain is really beginning to take its toll. Not surprising after a terrible week both in Westminster and Brussels; but deeply alarming in that it shows not a hint of new thinking in the predicament she finds herself in, just opportunistic lashing out.

Is John Major also guilty of an “insult to the office he once held”? He has, after all, called for a new referendum too. And Gordon Brown? Next we will be being urged to criticise Barack Obama when he opposes some of Donald Trump’s wilder policies. But of course Blair is a soft target because he is disliked by many Labour supporters who May is hoping will stem the shift towards that referendum.

What should the Prime Minister be doing at this stage? Well, first of all, she does need to recognise that she is not going to get out of the EU 27 the sort of legally binding qualifications to the Irish backstop in the Withdrawal Treaty which she needs if she is to have any hope of getting the backing of the DUP and of those 117 mutineers in her own ranks. Non-binding clarifications In bucket loads may be available, but nothing likely to vary the judgement of her own Attorney-General that there will be no way for the UK to unilaterally exit from the backstop once it has been triggered by failure to reach new trade arrangements which remove any requirement for new controls on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

Click here to find out more

So the present deal, however embellished with warm words, is not going to get through Parliament and be ratified. Further delay will not change that harsh reality; it will only increase the damage to British business and the economy as more resources are poured by the government and the private sector into “no deal“ contingency planning. It really is, therefore, time to weigh up Plan B options; time too for a calmer approach and less rigidity in outlook.

What are the options? Well, one is to switch horses and go for the so- called “Norway Plus“. But this comes with an obligation to maintain free movement and with a heavy budgetary contribution and membership of the customs union; and with exclusion from shaping the EU policies we would find ourselves having to apply. It is rather hard to see why this should be preferable to remaining a member.

The other main option, if one regards a no deal exit as unacceptably damaging – as most members of both Houses do so regard it – is to have a People’s Vote. That is now the only way the Prime Minister’s deal has any chance of being approved. It also offers the electorate a chance to express a view on Brexit now that they can actually see what it entails, rather than having it sold to them, as it was in 2016, by a bunch of fantasists who have been demonstrated as incapable of delivering what they promised.

An insult to democracy? Hardly.

Brexit: Tony Blair hits back at 'irresponsible' Theresa May as war of words escalates

Brexit: Tony Blair hits back at ‘irresponsible’ Theresa May as war of words escalates

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-tony-blair-theresa-may-response-second-referendum-deal-irresponsible-a8685621.html

Tony Blair hits back at ‘irresponsible’ Theresa May as war of words escalates

Former PM hits back at claims he had ‘undermined’ UK during Brexit negotiations and ‘insulted’ office of prime minister

BENJAMIN KENTISH, INDEPENDENT|@BenKentish|AIWA! NO!|Tony Blair has hit back at Theresa May after she accused him of “undermining” the UK in Brexit talks and “insulting” the office of prime minister.

In a highly unusual war of words between a sitting prime minister and one of their predecessors, Mr Blair called Ms May “irresponsible” for trying to “steamroller” her Brexit deal through Parliament.

Responding to Ms May’s criticism, the former prime minister insisted it was “not irresponsible or insulting” for him to campaign for a fresh Brexit referendum and denied he had undermined her during Brexit negotiations.

Mr Blair has been a vocal advocate of the public being given a Final Say vote on Brexit and on Friday called on the EU to prepare to extend Article 50 in order to allow more time for further negotiations or another referendum.

That prompted Ms May to launch an astonishing attack on the him.May attacks Blair for ‘subverting Brexit process for own interests’

In a statement, she claimed “there are too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests rather than acting in the national interest”.

“For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served,” she said.

Mr Blair is understood not to have visited Brussels for several months, and it is unclear what prompted the timing of Ms May’s attack.

Supporters of a fresh referendum pointed out that she had not condemned former Conservative prime minister John Major, who also backs another referendum and last week travelled to Ireland to call for the British government to revoke Article 50 “with immediate effect”.

Responding with a statement of his own, Mr Blair said it was clear that “neither the British people nor their Parliament will unit behind the prime minister’s deal”.

He continued: “In these circumstances it is not irresponsible or insulting to put forward an alternative way to achieve resolution. The sensible thing is now to allow Parliament to vote on each of the forms of Brexit canvassed including the prime minister’s deal.

“If they can’t reach agreement then the logical thing is to go back to the people. To describe such a course as an insult is a strange description of what would be the opportunity for them to instruct Parliament as to how to proceed. Far from being anti democratic it would be the opposite, as indeed many senior figures in her party from past and present have been saying.”