Tony Blair, the former Labour Prime Minister, has called for the EU and the UK to agree to a reduced level of migration to the UK in an attempt to remain in the EU. His comments come after Lord Adonis argued that an offer from the EU to limit freedom of movement could cause a reversal of Brexit.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Blair wrote:
“We can curtail the things that people feel are damaging about European immigration, both by domestic policy change and by agreeing change within Europe. This is precisely the territory the Labour Party should camp upon”.
Harvey Redgrave, a spokesman for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, who had produced a report on EU migration, said:
“It is clear that free movement – in its current form – needs to be reformed, given last year’s Referendum vote”
However, excessive restrictions on EU migration, as proposed by the recently leaked Home Office paper, would be self-defeating, as our analysis of the role of EU nationals in the labour market shows, and also sacrifice the possibility of the UK staying within the Single Market. And evidence on attitudes to immigration and Brexit shows that a majority of the public expect compromise from the UK-EU discussions.
The government need to take a more pragmatic, inclusive and nuanced approach to these negotiations, which recognises the trade-offs involved between migration control and membership of the Single Market, and which recognises the new political reality, post-election, of their reduced mandate”.
Sir Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, attacked Tony Blair saying:
“It’s a bit late now, this epiphany”.