UK should keep Brexit options open —Tony Blair

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said “we should keep our options open” on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

He told the BBC the 48 per cent who had voted to Remain felt “disenfranchised” and it was not clear “what we are moving to”.

He said that “if the will of the people shifts” as details of what Brexit means for the country begin to emerge, then, “Why shouldn’t we recognise that?”

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have both ruled out a second EU referendum.

When asked on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend whether “keeping our options open” meant a second EU referendum, Mr Blair replied: “It means whatever we decide it should mean as we see how this debate develops.”

But he said the case for leaving the EU had “crumbled”.

He said the government should engage now with other European Union countries to see what room there was for manoeuvre, stressing the continuing importance of David Cameron’s role in this, rather than waiting for the outcome of the Tory leadership race.

He said the referendum had been an event of “seismic importance” but warned the focus in the wake of Mr Cameron’s resignation as prime minister would be on the Conservative leadership contest rather than the country’s national interest.

He said that once the practical effects of the UK’s decision to leave the EU became clearer, then there should be a role for Parliament.

“Right now it’s clear. We’re leaving,” he added.

“But we don’t know what we’re going to. If what happens as we develop this negotiation with the rest of Europe, it does become clear – and let’s suppose for example we find we’re shut out of the single market, we have to rely on the World Trade Organisation as the route back in to different trade deals.