At a speech at Bloomberg in London this morning, Tony Blair will declare his mission to persuade the UK to stay in the EU . Our partners, Roger Casale from New Europeans have issued this press release in advance and Roger, Marie-Noelle Loewe and Tom Brown from New Europeans will be in attendance
Many will question the value and the timing of Tony Blair’s intervention and in particular the choice of Open Britain to host the event.
Open Britain has been campaigning up to now for a Soft Brexit rather than to stop Brexit. Before the referendum, Open Britain was called Stronger In and ran the disastrous Remain campaign which saw support for Britain’s membership drop from over 60% to under 50%.
Behind the idea of Open Britain (and Stronger In) is the idea that Europe is primarily about economics and free markets. The name Open Britain is inspired by the name of the single market think tank Open Europe, whose director once described New Europeans as “hopelessly naive” for wanting to talk about a Europe of the Citizens.
In our view, Open Britain does not share the vision that New Europeans and many other organisations have of a Europe of the Citizens, a Europe as a space of equality, freedom and solidarity, a Europe of rights and in which the principle of freedom of movement of people is upheld as strongly as the freedom to move goods, services and capital.
However, we also take the view that all forms of resistance to Brexit are welcome – even from Tony Blair!
The reality is that it will take a lot more than a change of position by Open Britain to change hearts and minds. This can only be done in our view by listening to and engaging with the communities who voted against Britain’s membership so that we can understand their grievances and start to address and to some extent validate them.
This does not mean blaming migration for our problems when in fact migration is part of the solution. It does mean helping communities understand that Brexit is going to make things worse, much worse for them, whatever the upside for the speculators.
More than anything, we need to give people hope in the future, and the idea that the future is something need to build together. Tony Blair did that once, in 1997 and I was a part of it as a New Labour MP. Can he do it again?
1997 was a D-Day moment – after 18 years of Conservative government , Britain was ready for a change and Tony Blair led “the progressives” on to victory.
Twenty years on, we are facing a Dunkerque moment. We are going to need every sea-worthy boat in the water.
To join New Europeans and campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, click here