Former prime minister Tony Blair has said “we should keep our options open” on the UK leaving the European Union.
He told the BBC the 48% who had voted to Remain felt “disenfranchised” and it was not clear “what we are moving to”.
He said that “if the will of the people shifts” as details of what Brexit means for the country begin to emerge, then, “Why shouldn’t we recognise that?”
Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have both ruled out a second EU referendum.
When asked on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend whether “keeping our options open” meant a second EU referendum, Mr Blair replied: “It means whatever we decide it should mean as we see how this debate develops.”
But he said the case for leaving the EU had “crumbled”.
He said a vote of “seismic importance” had happened to the country but David Cameron’s resignation and the leadership contest meant the focus would be on appealing to Conservative Party members rather than the country’s national interest.
He said the government should engage now with other European Union countries to see what room there was for manoeuvre, stressing the continuing importance of Prime Minister David Cameron’s role in this, rather than waiting for the outcome of the Tory leadership race.
‘We are sovereign’
He said: “If… once we look through the rest of our European partners, we start to see where there is a possible route for compromise, my point is this: We are sovereign. Let’s just keep our options open.”
He added that, once the practical effects of the UK’s decision to leave the EU became clearer, then there should be a role for Parliament, adding: “The country should carry on being engaged in this debate, it should carry on expressing its view.”
“Yes right now, it’s clear, we’re leaving. But we don’t know what we are going to.”
He said Britain had “diminished” its place in the world and would have to “fight to get it back”.
“My point is why do all this unless there’s some huge gain we can see on the other side, which right now we can’t,” he said.
On the issue of immigration, he said there was not much more the UK could achieve by being out of the EU than it could from within and that it should explore options for what could be done without “having to eject ourselves from the entirety of the European Union”.
But he said: “Even if you apply an Australian points system to European migration, you are going to get European migrants.”
He would not be drawn into debate over whether Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn should stay or go, but said: “We have to have an opposition that holds the government to account.”
Please follow SGT Report on Twitter & help share the message.