Is one of the most unpopular politicians in Britain’s modern history trying to make himself even more unpopular?
Kate Burrows-Jones, World Media North America Editor & Adel Darwish, Political Editor
Despite a referendum vote by the British public, and an overwhelming vote for the Notification of Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons (498-114) to leave the EU, former Prime Minister Tony Blair is intent on subverting the democratic process. He is agitating against the Brexit vote by calling upon those who want to remain in the EU to “rise up” against the majority (17.4 Million) and by egging on the unelected House of Lords to amend a bill that was smoothly passed by the elected Members of Parliament. The House of Lords is a controversial body that he himself fundamentally altered. 190 Peers are set to speak on the bill and 20 Peers are expected to press to amend the Bill.
Lord Mandelson, a leading figure in Open Britain, the organisation spearheading the counter-revolution to reverse Brexit and a former cabinet minister, this morning urged his fellow peers not to “throw in the towel early” as they prepare to consider the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
The claim of both Blair and Lord Mandelson that people weren’t fully aware of facts and that they didn’t know what they were voting for was refuted by most politicians and Fleet Street leader writers as arrogant, undemocratic, and untrue. “ He’s a blast from the past” said Liz Truss MP. The Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary of Lord Mandelson added that he was rerunning the argument made during the referendum campaign “which was heard and rejected by the British people.”
Defending Blair’s call for Remainers to “rise up” against Brexit, Blair’s former Business Secretary claimed (on the BBC Marr show) that amendments regarding rights of EU citizens to remain in UK after Brexit and a “meaningful” vote in parliament on the final deal could receive enough cross-party support in the Lords to send the bill back to the Commons. The Tory Government does not command a majority in the upper house, where Mandelson told the BBC that the government will face a defeat in the House of Lords. An investigation by the Sun On Sunday, later printed in most Sunday papers, found that 30 Peers had financial links to the EU and benefit on average of £500,000 a year. The paper concluded, they would prefer to remain in the EU.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that some members have financial ties as pension recipients to the EU and should disclose before they take a position. On Monday and Tuesday next week, the Lords will enter a general debate on all aspects of the bill.
Former Deputy Speaker of the House, Nigel Evans MP for Ribble Valley since 1992, says that he very frequently points to the line on the back of the government’s £9 million anti-Brexit pamphlet (incidentally printed by a German firm) that says, “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.” A large bloc of Remain MPs voted for the Government’s Withdrawal Bill based on respect for the democratic vote.
A display of revolt on the bill risks upsetting markets and eroding confidence in the House of Lords, whose existence has often been questioned in British Politics.
When Tony Blair was Prime Minister, he ended the House of Lord’s system of hereditary peerages with the House of Lords Act of 1999 which expelled all but 92 Lords. He replaced Lords with life-long appointees. His anointed appointees were known as ‘Tonies Cronies,’ triggering a police investigation. While those appointed by his successor Gordon Brown were labeled ‘Brown-nosers,’ PM David Cameron’s chosen ones were ‘Dave’s Faves.’ The once Conservative leaning House of Lords is now dominated by Lords who are strongly pro-EU. Blair was roundly accused of using the Lords to reward those who had helped him.
In a speech on Friday hosted by The pro-E.U. group Open Britain, Blair launched his campaign to stop Brexit. Blair said the “hard Brexit” and “Brexit at any cost,” of Prime Minister Theresa May will risk billions in industry. He claimed that those who voted to leave did so unaware, “the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit. As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind…Our mission is to persuade them to do so.” of The Conservative government in power Blair said, “This is a Government for Brexit, of Brexit and dominated by Brexit. It is a mono-purpose political entity.”
It’s all reminiscent of the approach of EU mandarins to Ireland’s “no” vote in a 2008 referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: make them keep voting until they vote correctly.
Mr Blair said as much earlier in 2008. “ we just have to keep repeating the question until we get the correct referendum result,” replying during a press conference at Number 10 to a questions from Adel Darwish on whether he would try to push the European Constitution through parliament if the people voted no in the referendum he promised?
Later the EU rebranded the European Constitution the Lisbon Treaty, giving Blair an escape hatch from his referendum pledge.
Blair’s speech triggered a wave of condemnation since it went against his own Labour party official position to respect the result of the referendum and ordered a three line whip vote with the government on the Notification of Withdrawal Bill. He is also seen by many as an anti-democratic in his call for a counter-revolution. Blair called on Remainers to “rise up in defence of what we believe.”
Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s reply to Blair’s call to ‘rise up’ was, to tell the British people “to rise up and turn off the TV next time Blair comes on with his condescending campaign.” He reminded BBC viewers of Blair’s legacy of unwise military intervention…as a Foreign Secretary I am still clearing up his mess.”
Blair was a hero after 9/11 but plunged to unpopularity for misleading Parliament by exaggerating a non-existent threat to Britain. In order to persuade MPs to vote for getting into the Iraq War, Blair’s government said Britain was “within 45 minutes” of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons. The more recent focus of some of that anger is the 2016 publication of the Chilcot Inquiry which concluded the UK joined in the invasion before peaceful interventions were exhausted. The report said Blair exaggerated the threat of Saddam’s weapons and ignored warnings of how Iraq would pan out after the aftermath of the invasion. He is accused of profiting from his post by collecting speaking fees and working for foreign countries. The left also dislikes him for abandoning the principles of the Labour party to “new Labour.” He has been accused of being a war criminal and a President Bush’s poodle.