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Theresa May ‘heading for brick wall at speed’, says Tony Blair

Get your snacks (and drinks) ready to watch the self-destruction of British politics in real time, as Tuesday is set to be a dramatic day.

December 11 is when MPs will vote on whether to accept Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and they are unlikely to back it with the majority needed.

Former prime minister Tony Blair has weighed in, saying Theresa May should cancel the vote as she knows she’s going to lose.

If she doesn’t, she’ll just be ‘kind of going ahead knowing you are going to hit that brick wall at speed,’ he said.

Protestors demonstrate opposite Parliament against Britain's Brexit split from Europe, in London, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May's effort to win support for her Brexit agreement comes amid reports in British newspapers Thursday, predicting that Parliament could reject the deal by more than 100 votes. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

‘Where it ends is anyone’s guess’ (Picture: AP)

Mr Blair said that instead of trying to force her plan through, the PM should play the role of ‘facilitator’ to find a compromise which can command a majority in the Commons.

However, he noted an obvious problem with this, which is that probably none of the Brexit options on offer would prove capable of attracting majority support from MPs.

The question would then have to be put back to the public in a second referendum.

He said there should be a re-run with the choice of remaining in the EU, possibly with concessions on immigration and free movement if these could be obtained from Brussels, and the kind of hard Brexit favoured by those he termed ‘proper Brexiteers’.


Speaking at a Westminster lunch, the former Labour leader said: ‘Personally, I don’t see what the point [of the vote] is in going down to a huge defeat.

‘But I think that’s a second-order question.

‘The real issue is, is she prepared to work to see what is a compromise that has parliamentary approval?

‘My belief is that when that process goes through, she will find that there isn’t one.

‘And if there isn’t one, that’s when my solution becomes more acceptable.’

SIPA USA via PA Images British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street as she makes her way to the Parliament where she attends Prime Minister Questions session (PMQs), London on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

He said she should cancel the vote (Picture: PA)

Although a second referendum with Remain on the ballot paper seemed improbable, it provides the only solution if all Brexit options prove impossible in a deeply-divided Parliament, he said.

‘I’m 100% at a personal level sympathetic to her,’ said Mr Blair.

‘But honestly, this is the moment to realise you are going to have to work out whether it’s possible to reach a consensus amongst the MPs.

‘And if it isn’t, you exclude the impossible and go back to the improbable, because that’s all that will work.’

Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX (10012026f) Tony Blair 'Good Morning Britain' TV show, London, UK - 03 Dec 2018

‘I’m 100% at a personal level sympathetic to her,’ said Mr Blair (Picture: Rex)

Mr Blair said that the nation was ‘united’ in believing that the UK should either do Brexit or not do it, but would not accept a result which is ‘half in and half out’.

By making the ‘strategic error’ of trying to balance the need to deliver on the referendum result with the imperative to limit the economic damage of EU withdrawal, Mrs May had ‘tried to square a circle that can’t be squared’.

Her deal ‘doesn’t honour the Brexit vote and doesn’t satisfy Remainers either’, and if it was pushed through, it would be regarded as a ‘betrayal’ by many of those who voted Leave in 2016, he said.

Turning one of his own slogans on its head, Mr Blair said: ‘This time, there’s no acceptable third way.’

He added: ‘Where it ends is anyone’s guess.’

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