Shadow Chancellor condemns 'out of touch' Tony Blair in spat over


Tony Blair has praised Jeremy Corbyn's performance in the recent United Kingdom election - despite the former prime minister being one of the most prominent critics of the leader of his former party. The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement.

The criticism that Mr Blair was out of step with the public was echoed by Robin Walker, a Brexit minister, who said: "The majority of British people voted to leave the EU".

The EU has previously said that Britain can not enjoy the benefits of free trade with the other 27 member states without accepting the principles of free movement, which make it easier for EU citizens to work and travel within the trading bloc. "Given what is at stake, and what, daily, we are discovering about the costs of Brexit, how can it be right deliberately to take off the table the option of compromise between Britain and Europe so that Britain stays?"

In his article on Saturday, Blair lamented that both Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party had set their minds on leaving the single market, without exploring the alternatives.

"I pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn's temperament in the campaign, to the campaign's mobilization of younger voters and to the enthusiasm it generated", Blair, normally a Corbyn critic, said.

Blair was prime minister for ten years until 2007.

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In an article titled "Brexit and the Centre", published on Saturday by Blair's Institute for Global Change, he wrote that European Union leaders might be willing to "reform and meet us half way" to keep the United Kingdom in the bloc.

The former Labour leader also criticised his party's vision of a "jobs first" Brexit outside the single market, calling it a "contradiction in terms", and said he was "dubious" about the idea that it helped win over Remain and Leave voters in the General Election.

In response, Corbyn told BBC News that the economy would do well under a Labour-led government that focused on raising investment.

The former Labour leader admitted that "Brexit will happen" if "the will of the British people remains as it was last June".

He wrote: "If a rightwing populist punch in the form of Brexit was followed by a leftwing populist punch in the form of unreconstructed hard-left economics, Britain would hit the canvas, flat on our back and be out for a long count".