Tony Blair believes Theresa May should scrap next week’s vote on her Brexit deal as she is about to hit a “brick wall at speed”.
The former Prime Minister told journalists on Thursday afternoon May needs to begin finding a compromise that will pass through the Commons instead of pushing ahead with her “half in, half out” Brexit proposal.
Speaking at a lunch in parliament, Blair repeated his call for another referendum on Brexit, and said it should essentially be a re-run of the 2016 vote, with the options of remaining in the EU or leaving completely on the ballot paper.
His comments came as May held a meeting with her cabinet colleagues Michael Gove, Amber Rudd, Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox in Downing Street as the likelihood of the Prime Minster’s deal getting through the Commons next Tuesday diminished even further.
Asked whether he would go ahead with the vote if he was Prime Minister, Blair replied: “Personally, I don’t see what the point is of going down to a huge defeat.”
He earlier said: “If she can’t get this thing through she’s got to be the facilitator of finding the thing that works and it is better to be in that position, because that is the reality of where she is, than just kind of going ahead knowing you’re going to hit that brick wall at speed.”
Blair said May’s negotiation had been thwarted from the outset by the desire to fulfill the wish of Brexit voters to leave the EU and also appease the large number of MPs who want to avoid “economic damage”.
He compared parliament to acting like a “shadow government” as it would be able to set out to May how to proceed if the deal is voted down next Tuesday.
The former Labour leader warned that even putting the negotiations in the hands of MPs would not break the deadlock as there is no majority for any single course of action. It would therefore need a fresh referendum to break the impasse.
Blair said: “The real issue is: is she prepared to work to see what is a compromise that has parliamentary approval. My belief is that when that process goes through she’ll find there isn’t one. That’s when my solution becomes more acceptable.”