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Reverse Brexit vote? Blair, Major want a rethink

world Updated: Nov 25, 2016 23:30 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

File photo of former British prime minister Tony Blair addressing troops in Basra, Iraq in 2003. (AP)

The 48% of Britons who voted on June 23 to remain in the European Union now have two high-profile leaders questioning the Brexit process and seeking another referendum: former prime ministers Tony Blair (Labour) and John Major (Conservative).

Major believes there is a “perfectly credible” case for a second referendum, while Blair says the Brexit vote could be reversed if the public changed its mind after realising that pain exceeded gain.

Downing Street has already rejected the idea of another referendum.

Major reportedly told a dinner to commemorate the 100th anniversary of David Lloyd becoming the prime minister that the 48% of voters who wanted to remain should not be subject to the “tyranny of the majority”.

In his first intervention over the issue since the referendum, The Guardian reported Major could not accept that those people who voted to remain should have no input on the terms of Brexit.

“I hear the argument that the 48% of people who voted to stay should have no say in what happens…I find that very difficult to accept. The tyranny of the majority has never applied in a democracy and it should not apply in this particular democracy,” he said.

The Supreme Court is due to begin hearing a legal challenge in early December on whether the Theresa May government is competent to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to exit from the EU on its own, or after a vote in Parliament.

In an interview to the New Statesman to mark his return to commenting on political matters, Blair said he was not predicting Brexit would not happen, only that there is a possibility it would not: “It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain, cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up. 

“Either you get maximum access to the single market, in which case you’ll end up accepting a significant number of the rules on immigration, on payment into the budget, on the European court’s jurisdiction. People may then say, ‘Well, hang on, why are we leaving then?’ 

 “Or alternatively, you’ll be out of the single market and the economic pain may be very great because, beyond doubt, if you do that you’ll have years, maybe a decade, of economic restructuring.”