Theresa May launches attack on Tony Blair for ‘subverting Brexit process for his own political interests’

Theresa May has launched an astonishing attack on Tony Blair, accusing the former prime minister of seeking to “undermine” her during Brexit talks in order to pursue his own “political interests”.

In highly unusual move, Ms May hit out at one of her predecessors, claiming the former Labour leader’s support for a second Brexit referendum was “an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served”.

The criticism comes after Mr Blair told Europe to prepare for the “near probability” of Britain extending Article 50 to allow more time for negotiations or a fresh referendum.

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The former prime minister has been one of the most vocal advocates of the public being given the Final Say on Brexit and has previously travelled to Brussels to make the case to EU leaders.

Ms May said: “I am fighting for a good deal for Britain. I will continue to fight for a good deal for Britain.

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“I have never lost sight of my duty and that is to deliver on the referendum result and to do so in a way that protects British jobs, keeps us safe and protects our precious union.

“However there are too many people who want to subvert the process for their own political interests – rather than acting in the national interest.”

Condemning Mr Blair, she continued: “For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served.

“We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision.

“Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for. I remain determined to see that happen. I will not let the British people down.”

Tony Blair says there will soon be a majority in parliament for second referendum

It comes after Ms May called off a parliamentary vote on her deal with Brussels less than four months before Britain is due to leave the EU, after admitting the plan would have been heavily defeated.

On Friday, Mr Blair said a second Brexit referendum was now the most likely outcome.

“Our present situation is unique in modern British politics,” the former prime minister said in a speech in London. “The government is not in control – not of the agenda, not of the events and not of the outcome.

“What seemed a few months ago unlikely is now above the 50 percent likelihood,” he added. “We will go back to the people.”

Addressing EU leaders in Brussels, Mr Blair said they should offer to reform to make it more attractive for Britain to remain, including making changes to immigration rules, a key driver behind the vote to leave the bloc.

An offer by the EU to change would show “the political leadership of Europe and Britain had listened to the underlying concerns of those who voted Brexit, not disrespecting the concerns but meeting them in a way which is not damaging”.

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A protester carrying a noose at the “Brexit betrayal” march. The man carrying it told a reporter: “That’s what the traitor May deserves.”

Tim Ireland/AP

2/41

A protester holds an anti-BBC sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

3/41

Tommy Robinson addresses a rally after taking part in a Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in central London

PA

4/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator holds a sign in the picket line

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

5/41

A protester holds an anti-Theresa May sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

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A pro-brexit demonstrator and his dog

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

7/41

Protesters carry a defaced British flag on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

8/41

Police officers attempts to keep rival protesters from clashing at the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Victoria Jones/PA

9/41

Pro-brexit demonstrators endorse UKIP

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

10/41

Pro-brexit supporters hold a sign opposed to Nigel Farage

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

11/41

Tommy Robinson tells protesters to join Ukip via their mobile phones on stage next to leader Gerard Batten (right) at the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march on 9 December 2018

Gareth Fuller/PA

12/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator walks in the picket line

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

13/41

A protester carries a Union Jack on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

14/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator wrapped in the Union Jack

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

15/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator at the protest

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

16/41

A Brexit ‘betrayal’ march protester wearing a Make Britain Great Again hat in London on 9 December 2018

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

17/41

The “Brexit Betrayal” march passes through Central London

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

18/41

A protester speaks thorugh a megaphone on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

19/41

A pro-brexit sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

20/41

A pro-brexit anti-May sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

21/41

Pro brexit demonstrators move through Central London

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

22/41

A pro-brexit anti-May sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

23/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator marches with sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

24/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator holds a rude sign in the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

25/41

The march passes down Victoria Street near Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

26/41

A festive protester marches near Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

27/41

A protester holds a mock noose as the march passes down Victoria Street towards Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

28/41

A protester wrapped in the Union Jack marches down Victoria Street towards Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

29/41

A protester makes some noise on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

30/41

A protester dressed as a dinosaur holds a sign rallying against “Davocracy” – in reference to the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

31/41

A protester holds a pro-brexit sign on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

32/41

The march approaches parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

33/41

A protester distributes pro-brexit lapel badges

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

34/41

A demonstrator wears an anti-EU poster and holds an anti-BBC sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

35/41

A smoke bomb is deployed in Parliament Square as the march comes across the counter-demonstration

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

36/41

A flag bearing the Arms of Plantagenet flies in theprot

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

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Protesters on the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Protesters on the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

1/41

A protester carrying a noose at the “Brexit betrayal” march. The man carrying it told a reporter: “That’s what the traitor May deserves.”

Tim Ireland/AP

2/41

A protester holds an anti-BBC sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

3/41

Tommy Robinson addresses a rally after taking part in a Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in central London

PA

4/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator holds a sign in the picket line

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

5/41

A protester holds an anti-Theresa May sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

6/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator and his dog

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

7/41

Protesters carry a defaced British flag on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

8/41

Police officers attempts to keep rival protesters from clashing at the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Victoria Jones/PA

9/41

Pro-brexit demonstrators endorse UKIP

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

10/41

Pro-brexit supporters hold a sign opposed to Nigel Farage

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

11/41

Tommy Robinson tells protesters to join Ukip via their mobile phones on stage next to leader Gerard Batten (right) at the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march on 9 December 2018

Gareth Fuller/PA

12/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator walks in the picket line

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

13/41

A protester carries a Union Jack on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

14/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator wrapped in the Union Jack

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

15/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator at the protest

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

16/41

A Brexit ‘betrayal’ march protester wearing a Make Britain Great Again hat in London on 9 December 2018

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty

17/41

The “Brexit Betrayal” march passes through Central London

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

18/41

A protester speaks thorugh a megaphone on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

19/41

A pro-brexit sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

20/41

A pro-brexit anti-May sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

21/41

Pro brexit demonstrators move through Central London

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

22/41

A pro-brexit anti-May sign at the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

23/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator marches with sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

24/41

A pro-brexit demonstrator holds a rude sign in the rally

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

25/41

The march passes down Victoria Street near Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

26/41

A festive protester marches near Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

27/41

A protester holds a mock noose as the march passes down Victoria Street towards Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

28/41

A protester wrapped in the Union Jack marches down Victoria Street towards Parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

29/41

A protester makes some noise on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

30/41

A protester dressed as a dinosaur holds a sign rallying against “Davocracy” – in reference to the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

31/41

A protester holds a pro-brexit sign on the march

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

32/41

The march approaches parliament

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

33/41

A protester distributes pro-brexit lapel badges

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

34/41

A demonstrator wears an anti-EU poster and holds an anti-BBC sign

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

35/41

A smoke bomb is deployed in Parliament Square as the march comes across the counter-demonstration

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

36/41

A flag bearing the Arms of Plantagenet flies in theprot

Angela Christofilou/The Independent

37/41

Protesters on the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

38/41

Protesters on the Brexit ‘betrayal’ march in London on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

39/41

Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

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Brexit ‘betrayal’ marchers gathering on Park Lane ahead of a protest on 9 December 2018

Angela Christofilou/ The Independent

Mr Blair said in most other situations, such as the time between engagement and marriage or accepting a job offer and taking it up, people can change their mind.

“If our knowledge of reality in any of these situations changed, in any of these situations would we really abhor the prospect of reconsideration?”

“Given all that has happened, the undemocratic thing is to deny people a final say.”



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