Blair and Corbyn clash after ex-Labour PM suggests voters back Tories to get a soft Brexit
He argued that if voters had a choice to vote for a likely winner in their constituency who would favor a softer version of Brexit than so-called ‘hard’ Brexiteers, then they should.
Hard Brexit, which is favored by UKIP and the Tory Right, is a full and rapid withdrawal from the EU.
Liberals, including Blair, want a slower exit with terms carefully negotiated to soften the impact of the divorce.
Asked if a vote to avoid a hard Brexit would mean voting for a party other than his own, the former PM Tony Blair told the BBC Monday: “What I’m advocating may mean that. It may mean voting Labour. It may mean, by the way, that they vote Tory, for candidates who are prepared to give this commitment.”
“This is something that’s bigger than party allegiance, in this particular election,” he said.
He said candidates should be asked: “Will you back Brexit at any costs, or are you prepared to say, this deal is not in the interests of the country?”
“I’m not going to advocate people vote tactically. What I’m saying is they should vote on an informed basis on this issue,” Blair said.
The controversial politician also said that he was tempted to return to politics for the first time in years.
“I look at the political scene at the moment and I almost feel motivated to go right back into it,” he said.
His intervention was not welcomed by the Labour leadership.
A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn, whose left-wing politics have long clashed with those of Blair, told the Guardian: “On 9 June, we will either have a Labour government or a Tory one. If you want Brexit to be used to turn Britain into a low-wage tax haven, vote Tory.
“If you want a Britain for the many not the few after Brexit, vote Labour. The choice is clear.”