Tony Blair: British People Have 'Right To Change Their Mind' After Brexit

Tony Blair
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, London, November 17, 2009. He has called for voters to be allowed a second vote on Brexit. Kevin Coombs/Reuters

Tony Blair has said the British people "have a right to change their mind" about Brexit as he urges the government to prepare for EU departure with calm statesmanship.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the EU last week, former British Prime Minister Blair said: "Above all, Britain should keep all our options open. This last point is not an argument for another referendum. It is simply a statement of the obvious: the British people have a right to carry on being part of the debate.

"Actually the people do have a right to change their mind, but that is not for now."

In his column, Blair dismisses the idea, floated by Conservative leadership contender Theresa May, of a pro-Brexit Tory heading up negotiations with the rest of the EU: "OK, I understand the Tory politics of that; but is it really sensible for the country?" he said.

"Don't underestimate the damage having Nigel Farage address the European Parliament in that way does to our interests. Remember who has to agree any new deal for Britain: the European Parliament."

And in what will be read by some as a pitch for a job as negotiator, Blair said hammering out a deal with Europe will require "serious statesmanship" and intimate knowledge of how the leaders of other member states are feeling about the situation.

"There is going to be a negotiation of extraordinary complexity where there are a thousand devils in every detail. Those we used to call "our European partners" are, unsurprisingly, divided and uncertain themselves," he said.

"So before any formal negotiation begins, we need to get a high level sense of where the boundaries are going to be, the things that might be compromised, the things that are red lines.

"Our nation is in peril," Blair finishes, "To allow us to come safely through this we need to be adult in our politics, to proceed with calm, maturity and without bitterness; because our future as a nation in the world and as the U.K. itself is at stake."