Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says British citizens can stop the country’s departure from the European Union (EU) if they want to since Brexit is not etched in stone.
In an interview with the New Statesman on Thursday, Blair said Brexit “can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up.”
The former Labour Party premier, who was in office from 1997 until 2007, said it should be possible for the British people or parliament to switch their verdict if it becomes clear the alternative negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May is going to be worse.
On June 23, nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, in hopes of taking back control over their borders and having more economic freedom.
Blair had previously described the EU referendum as “a catastrophe” and argued that British voters should be given the option of a second EU referendum.
Blair’s argument contrasts sharply with that of May, who has repeatedly said that “Brexit means Brexit” and that she’ll respect the referendum result.
Economic growth in the UK is expected to slow significantly next year, due to uncertainty over of the Brexit vote.
Experts have warned that leaving the EU will severely hurt London’s position as a financial hub, unless the UK decides to keep its access to the single EU market by loosening its stance on immigration.
If the UK loses its access to the EU’s single market, the resulting increase in the costs of doing business and exporting to the EU would hurt Britain’s competitive position in Europe.
Blair said on Thursday Britain should keep its “options open” on whether or not to leave the EU until after Brexit talks with the bloc are completed.
“Why wouldn’t you keep your options open? Why wouldn’t you say, ‘We took this decision, we took it before we saw what its consequences are; now we see its consequences, we’re not so sure?’” he asked.