Brexiteers take aim at Tony Blair after call to keep Brexit options open
Tory MPs Stewart Jackson and Maria Caulfield were most annoyed.
Tony Blair has infuriated Eurosceptic politicians with his call for remain voters to organise their opposition to Brexit and for Britain to keep its options open.
The former prime minister made his first intervention on the issue since the referendum campaign, suggesting that the public could yet change their mind on Brexit as the picture becomes clearer.
Writing in the New European, Blair said: “The issue is not whether we ignore the will of the people, but whether, as information becomes available, and facts take the place of claims, the ‘will’ of the people shifts.
“Maybe it won’t, in which case people like me will have to accept it. But surely we are entitled to try to persuade, to make the argument, and not to be whipped into line to support a decision we genuinely believe is a catastrophe for the country we love.”
He later told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is no reason why we should close off any options. The country has taken a decision in a referendum, there is no way that decision can be reversed, unless it becomes clear once people see the facts they change their mind.”
Among those backing Blair was former Labour leadership contender Own Smith, who tweeted that: “Tony Blair is right: Brexit is a catastrophe & we must continue to make the case for Europe, even at at 2nd Ref.”
But two Tory MP responded to Blair’s call for Britain to keep its options open with personal attacks on the former prime minister.
Maria Caulfield, a Brexit-supporting Conservative MP who now sits on the Exiting the EU Select Committee, said: “Tony Blair broke his own promise of a referendum on the EU, encouraged uncontrolled immigration and now can't come to terms with the decision of the people of the UK to leave.”
She added: “Instead of desperately trying to find ways to thwart the will of voters and talking down Britain's prospects, Labour should be concentrating on helping to make a success of Brexit.
Meanwhile Stewart Jackson, the parliamentary private secretary to the Brexit secretary David Davis made his feelings clear in a tweet that dismissed Blair as a “snake oil salesman”.