Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the UK government’s Brexit proposal as “doomed to fail,” predicting it will be voted down in Parliament.
In an exclusive interview to mark the launch of Euronews’ Raw Politics show, Blair said that the Chequers proposals unveiled in July by current Prime Minister Theresa May “is the worst of both worlds and will satisfy nobody.”
Agreed by May’s Cabinet at an away-day at the prime minister’s Chequers country residence back in July, the plan offered a much softer vision of what the country’s exit from the European Union would look like than initially laid out.Under the plan, the UK would “maintain a common rulebook for all goods” with the EU by committing to continued harmonisation with EU rules.It also offered concessions on the role of the European Court of Justice in UK-EU arbitration and proposed a facilitated customs arrangement though which the UK could collect tariffs for the EU in order to avoid hard borders. Two of May’s then-ministers — Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Davis — resigned in protest after the plan was unveiled.
For Blair, May is “on the wrong course altogether. I understand why she is trying to do it, but I think it is doomed to fail.””What she thinks is: look we have to do Brexit. Ok, it’s not a good idea but we have to do it and therefore I am going to do the mildest version of Brexit we can in order to say to the people who voted Brexit we have done it and protect the economy.””It looks like a clever compromise, but actually it’s a compromise that is the worst of both worlds and will satisfy nobody; which is why by the way I don’t think it will pass the House of Commons. I think Parliament will vote that down in the end,” he added.
British parliamentarians are expected to vote on the Chequers plan in October and May’s own Conservative Party is split over the agreement.
In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, David Davis said he would vote against.The Chequers White Paper has also failed to impress in Brussels with the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier revealing he is “strongly opposed” to May’s proposals on trade.In an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung newspaper on Sunday, Barnier said implementing some of the proposals would be illegal and that it would lead to the “end of the single market and the European project.”A withdrawal agreement laying out what the future relationship between the UK and the EU is scheduled to be reached in October although the EU has suggested the deal could be finalised in November.
‘I completely sympathise with her’
Blair, who served as UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007 and was in favour of the UK staying in the EU, said that he sympathises with May given that she campaigned for the UK to remain in the 28-country bloc ahead of the June 2016 referendum but now has to deliver Brexit.
“There’s something truly remarkable about a situation, especially for a country as mature and sort of serious as Britain, to have its leadership, its political class, take the country down a path that collectively they think is a bad idea,” Blair told Euronews.
“I mean, I have never seen a parallel like it.”I can’t imagine being Prime Minister and saying to the country: “right, I am going to do this thing even though I think it’s a bad idea”,” he said.