Tony Blair is back, and he’s on a mission to re-educate the British public about why they were wrong to vote for Brexit. “This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe,” he told his pro-European flock in London this morning. The former Prime Minister insisted that the referendum vote had been “based on imperfect knowledge”, and held out the prospect of Britain backtracking on its decision once it had become “informed” of what the consequences of leaving would be. This drew a fierce reaction from Boris Johnson, who accused Mr Blair of “insulting the intelligence” of the British people. He added: “I urge the British people to rise up and turn off the TV next time Tony Blair comes on with his condescending campaign.”
The Foreign Secretary and his fellow Brexiteers are annoyed by his intervention, but in private they may secretly be grateful for his continued enthusiasm. As I pointed out online, voters tend to distrust Mr Blair more than they trust him when he speaks about the EU. So if he is the figurehead for the anti-Brexit movement, Leavers will be happy.
Labour has tried to shrug off Mr Blair’s intervention, as it knows how unhelpful it could be as it tries to convince voters that it understands them on Brexit in Stoke and Copeland. “Blair built his political reputation – and Labour’s election victories – on his ability to “get it”, to understand working people’s priorities and their motivations,” Tom Harris writes. “He should retrieve those unerring political antennae out of whatever cupboard he left them in 2007 and dust them down.”
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