Blair’s anti-Brexit mission evokes memories of Iraq war

Tony Blair says it is his mission to encourage British people to “rise up” and challenge Brexit.

He believes that over time, enough people will consider that they have made a mistake voting to leave the EU.

And when they do, “it is their right to change their mind”.

Like when people changed their mind about the war in Iraq. When people realised, contrary to what they were told, that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. Then opinion changed.

Unsurprisingly, Tony Blair didn’t use this analogy, but, if you want to make the point it is quite a good one.

According to YouGov polls from March to December in 2003 – on average 54% of people backed the war in Iraq – so more than those who supported Brexit.

A few years later people didn’t just change their minds – many denied ever supporting it. A study in 2015 found only 37% remember ever agreeing with the war.

Could this turnaround happen with Brexit? Could people reverse their decision? Might people decide, as many did with the war, that they have been lied to?

I may have just demonstrated why Tony Blair is probably the wrong person to lead the counter-revolution.

However, he also stands head and shoulders above most other politicians when it comes to making a case.

It’s clear that the former prime minister feels there is a gaping gap in politics where pro-EU politicians have been left impotent by the referendum result.

That even though Remain supporters Theresa May and Philip Hammond hold the seat of power in Downing Street, “they’re not driving this bus. They’re being driven,” he said.

He points to a “jumble of contradictions” between what leading politicians said during the campaign about the consequences of Brexit and what they are saying now.

He cites the Chancellor, who said leaving the single market would be “catastrophic” but is now “very optimistic”.

He also accuses Leave figurehead Boris Johnson of flip-flopping.

Mr Blair said: “Two years ago the Foreign Secretary was emphatically in favour of the single market. Now ditching it is ‘brilliant’.”

The former PM is clearly furious that his own party has failed to challenge the Conservatives.

He said: “The debilitation of the Labour Party is the facilitator of Brexit. I hate to say that, but it is true.”

This cuts to the heart of his frustration. What happened, albeit on David Cameron’s watch, might not have happened if a progressive EU enthusiast had been leading Labour.

And now he can see his party waving through what Blair describes as a “Brexit at all costs”. He sees Corbyn as the ultimate pacifist to the Conservative thrust.

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