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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Tony Blair calls for a second vote on Brexit

The former British premier says no proper decision can be made on the UK leaving the EU until the terms of the divorce deal are known

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in his office in London.  Stephen Lock for the National
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in his office in London. Stephen Lock for the National

Tony Blair has called for a second nationwide vote to decide whether the UK should leave the European Union when the full detail of any negotiated deal is known.

The vote – either a national election or referendum - could lead to a reversal of the decision to leave the EU if the terms struck during the negotiations were unfavourable, the former prime minister told The National.

“What’s important is that we don’t have a vote on the divorce until we see the terms of the new relationship,” he said. “It could be an election, it could be a referendum … you have to have a final say.”

Mr Blair called for a second vote last year, a suggestion that was immediately rebuffed by the office of the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May.

The second vote demand has been backed by members of Mr Blair’s party and Nick Clegg, the former leader of the EU-supporting Liberal Democrats, who was deputy leader in the coalition government that called the referendum.

Despite Mrs May’s ruling Conservatives losing its overall majority in national elections in June, she has maintained there will be no second vote over Brexit.

Mr Blair said that he was concerned that Brexit would see the UK losing influence globally and put at risk his government’s achievement of securing the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Ireland, and removed the militarised border with the British-run north.

“Brexit is the determining issue of our time for the UK,” he said. “With Northern Ireland, Brexit imposes a strain on the UK.”