Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Blair defends call for European Union migration curbs

Blair defends call for European Union migration curbs Blair defends call for European Union migration curbs
Howard Terry | 11 September, 2017, 00:39

Urging MPs to put forward a "different or better way" to the public, Mr Blair said: "I'm trying to say this - in the end Brexit is a distraction not a solution to the problems this country faces".

Many Brexit supporters blame Blair's government, which allowed citizens of former communist states to settle immediately in Britain despite a long transition period implemented by other European Union countries, for a big influx of European Union migrants from 2004.

But Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told him to "get over it" and accept that Brexit is happening.

Before addressing Lib Dem activists who are joining the march, leader Sir Vince Cable told the Press Association: "I think a lot of the people who are dealing with it directly and who don't necessarily have a political axe to grind are pretty horrified actually because they see the potential for disastrous negotiations". He writes: "My government in 2004 did not invoke the transitional arrangements when eastern Europe joined the EU".

He said he believed Brexit would go ahead "unless it starts to become obvious that the public is having second thoughts" - and that "hasn't become obvious yet".

"The risk is the British people won't vote for that, they are not going to vote for the huge economic and social restructuring - to the changes to the health service and other things that that would require".

Mr Blair, however, pleaded with Remain-backing Tory ministers like Sir Michael and other MPs to steer the United Kingdom away from a "false path" with a choice between an old fashioned right-wing Brexit or "unreconstructed" leftism.

Pro-EU Conservative Ken Clarke told Sky News it was "hopeless" to think the United Kingdom could stay in the EU, given the "mood of the country".

Today, to accompany a paper published by Mr Blair's Institute for Global Change, the former prime minister comes close to a mea culpa for that 2004 decision.

Under existing rules, citizens of other European Union countries can be removed after six months if they have not found a job, have no realistic possibility of finding one, and require support from the welfare system.

Those who did not earn permission to stay would be banned from opening a bank account, renting a home or claiming benefits.

Former UKIP leader and Leave campaigner Nigel Farage said: 'Tony Blair is the reason we are in this mess.

Downing Street declined to comment.

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