This morning, Tony Blair delivered a rallying call to supporters of Britain’s membership of the EU, urging Remainers to “rise up” and challenge the Government’s approach to Brexit. He intends to establish an organisation focused on building support for “a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge” and, in a thinly veiled attack on Jeremy Corbyn, said that the debilitation of the Labour Party was the facilitator of Brexit. The Government should be warned that “serious opposition” on their chosen course of Brexit, is back.
No doubt Blair will get a mauling by the press following this intervention, but whatever your politics, elements of his speech should prompt reflection. His argument ultimately is that a complex, nuanced and challenging process is being pursued without a correspondingly complex, nuanced and challenging debate about what the end of that process will really mean for Britain, its economy, its citizens and its future. Fundamental elements are shifting in this country but with limited debate. Ideology is driving this journey and Brexit is the end of the road, whatever the cost. And thanks to the ineffectiveness of Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron, this prevailing wind is going unchallenged.
How much of a headache Blair will actually cause for Theresa May is debatable. A few headlines over the weekend perhaps, but the usual arguments will be trotted out and batted around by the usual suspects on each side. Though his message may resonate with the frustrated 15 million who voted Remain, the messenger remains the problem. No matter how elegantly he spells out basic truths about the situation we find ourselves in, or how desperate the need to fill the widening vacuum, Blair is not the man to fill it. Even if Tony is sort of right about Brexit, is he the right person to be delivering this rallying cry?