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Brexit: Sir John Major says ‚perfectly credible‘ case for second referendum

Posted by hkarner - 26. November 2016

Date: 25-11-2016
Source: The Guardian

john-major-ccFormer PM says ‘tyranny of the majority’ should not dictate manner of UK’s exit from the European Union in remarks likely to anger pro-Brexit Tories

Sir John Major has suggested the terms of Brexit could go to a second referendum, while Tony Blair has suggested the British people could change their mind.

Sir John Major has declared there is a “perfectly credible” case for a second referendum on Brexit and people who voted to remain should not be subject to the “tyranny of the majority”.

The former prime minister said the views of Remain voters should be heard in the debate about how Britain will leave the European Union.

The ex-Conservative leader told guests at a private dinner that the 48% of people who voted to stay in the European Union should have their say on the terms of the deal for breaking away from Brussels.

Major said he accepted the UK would not remain a full member of the EU but hoped the Brexit deal would enable the country to stay as close as possible to the other 27 members and the single market, the Times reported.

Parliament, not the government, should make the final decision on any new deal with the remaining members of the EU and there was a “perfectly credible case” for a second referendum.

“I hear the argument that the 48% of people who voted to stay should have no say in what happens,” he said.

“I find that very difficult to accept. The tyranny of the majority has never applied in a democracy and it should not apply in this particular democracy.”

Major, in a speech and Q&A to mark the 100th anniversary of David Lloyd George becoming prime minister, hailed the single market as “the richest market mankind has ever seen” in his first intervention in the Brexit debate since the 23 June vote.

The former prime minister’s time in No 10 was marked by a series of bruising battles with his own MPs over Europe and his comments are likely to cause fresh anger among Eurosceptic Tories.

Date: 25-11-2016
Source: The Guardian
Subject: Tony Blair: Brexit could be stopped if Britons change their minds

Blair CCFormer PM marks political comeback with interview, but says there is ‘too much hostility’ for him to return to frontline

Tony Blair praised Theresa May as a ‘very solid, sensible person’.

Brexit could be halted if the British people decided the costs of leaving the EU
greatly outweighed any benefits, Tony Blair has said in an interview marking his self-proclaimed return to political activity.

While stressing he was not planning a return to frontline politics – “there’s just too much hostility” – Blair told the New Statesman he wanted to “create the space for a political debate about where modern western democracies go and where the progressive forces particularly find their place”.

On Brexit, Blair stressed he was not predicting it would not happen, only that that was a possibility. “It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain, cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up,” he said.

Such a turnaround could arise in one of two ways, both of them hinging on negotiations over access to the EU’s single market, Blair said.

“Either you get maximum access to the single market, in which case you’ll end up accepting a significant number of the rules on immigration, on payment into the budget, on the European court’s jurisdiction. People may then say, ‘Well, hang on, why are we leaving then?’

“Or alternatively, you’ll be out of the single market and the economic pain may be very great because, beyond doubt, if you do that you’ll have years, maybe a decade, of economic restructuring.”

Brexit was “like agreeing to a house swap without having seen the other house”, the former Labour prime minister said. And while the referendum campaign was won by the leave side, even those voters would eventually “look at this in a practical way, not an ideological way”.

In the wide-ranging interview, Blair praised Theresa May as “a very solid, sensible person” who faced a hugely difficult task in steering the country and her party through Brexit.

Blair denied calling Jeremy Corbyn a “nutter”, saying the Labour leader was principled but, in his view, mistaken. Labour’s leadership “has been captured by the far left for the first time in the party’s history”.

He said: “I hope that the Labour party realises that it has a historic duty to try to represent people in this country who need our representation desperately.”

Speaking about the US election, Blair argued that people should seek to engage with the president-elect, Donald Trump, and hope that “the Trump who is a deal-maker and a non-ideologue comes through”.

In one striking passage, Blair said he could understand the appeal of the Republican party’s warnings about the threat from Islamist terrorism, saying the Democrats had been too cautious over the issue.

“What is very instructive is to go look at the Democratic platform for that election and look at the Republican one – leave aside Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Just look at those two platforms and you’ll see what the problem is.

“For example, when it comes to a discussion of radical Islam and the Islamist threat, the Democrats felt that, for reasons I completely understand, that if you talked about it in that language, the general prevailing sense is that you were then stigmatising all Muslims.

“I don’t personally agree with that. I think that you’re perfectly able to distinguish between Islamists and Muslims. But there is a threat that is based on the perversion of religion, and you should acknowledge it as such in my view.

“Whereas the Republicans had a whole section that was all about that. Again, if you’re looking at America and how they feel about things, what they feel is that the liberal left is unwilling to have a discussion about these things.”

More generally, Blair argued, Trump won the election because “there are various issues upon which the Republican platform was stronger than the Democrats”.

He said: “And this is part of a general global movement, which is partly a reaction to globalisation and partly economic. But it is also a lot to do with culture and identity, and people’s feelings that the world is changing rapidly around them and that the left doesn’t get this.”

On Trump’s appeal, he said: “I could see why there would be Americans, even in the centre ground, who might be attracted by that platform – even if, by the way, they weren’t attracted by the personality of the person who is the standard bearer. There’s got to be a lot of analysis as to why this happened.”

Having wound down his sometimes controversial business interests, Blair, 63, said he was seeking to again influence politics from a position he called the “progressive centre or centre-left”.


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