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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a new campaign Friday to persuade Britons to change their minds about leaving the European Union. Blair urged voters to speak out against the government’s drive to exit the EU at any cost, saying it could damage future generations. He argued last year’s vote to leave was “based on imperfect knowledge,” and that Britons voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit.
“As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind,” he said. “Our mission is to persuade them to do so.”
Blair argued that leaving the 28-nation bloc was not inevitable and that the people favoring Brexit took advantage of a mood of revolt stemming in part from changes in the global economy.
“The Brexiteers were the beneficiaries of this wave; now they want to freeze it to a day in June 2016,” he said. “They will say the will of the people can’t alter. It can.”
He plans to start an institute and build an alliance across party lines to create a movement with weight and reach to fight the notion of Brexit at any cost.
The former Labour leader said Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has become obsessed by Brexit to the exclusion of any other issue. Pressing issues on challenges in the modern economy, the National Health Service, communities left behind by globalization and immigration controls are being ignored, he said.
“This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair,” he said. “But the time to rise up in defense for what we believe.”
It is not immediately clear how much support Blair may have in creating a new wave of sentiment against May’s plans. The once-popular Labor leader suffered a fall from grace in supporting the United States in its intervention in Iraq that led to the ouster of Saddam Hussein.