The Conservative politician claimed Tony Blair played a pivotal role in helping delay Brexit, suggesting the former Prime Minister advised the European Union to “hold firm” on their negotiating position. Documents published last week revealed Brussels reached out to Mr Blair earlier this year to ask for advice on how to best prepare for a second referendum in Britan. Mr Hannnan voiced his frustration at pro-Remain interference on BBC Radio 5 Live: “In the EU there’s been a tendency for three years to listen to Nick Clegg and Tony Blair – and all the people they like and trust – telling them this somehow can be stopped.
“The reason we’ve got to this point, the reason we haven’t had a deal, is because there are British politicians rather outrageously, given the status of the talks, telling Brussels that if they hold firm, we might drop the whole idea of Brexit.”
The South-East England MEP added: “That is an irresponsible way of behaving, it’s not in the national interest to have these kinds of divisions but that’s what has given the EU the idea that if they are unreasonable, if they make demands, somehow we may just drop the whole idea.”
Brussels rejected calls from the British Government to reopen the tentative withdrawal agreement Theresa May struck last year to remove the Irish backstop. Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded the policy “anti-democratic,” insisting the UK could not agree to a deal if the clause remained intact.
A memo prepared as part of a “scene setter” for EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici earlier this month reveals the bloc did not consider a second referendum a “distant dream,” but a real possibility in the event of Mrs May failing to get the deal through Parliament.
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According to news website EU Observer, the note said: “Since you last saw Tony Blair in Davos a year ago, the position he is defending, a second referendum on Brexit, has gone from a distant dream to which few attached such credibility, to one of the most frequently talked about possible outcomes to the current impasse.”
The memo urged Mr Moscovici to arrange a meeting with Mr Blair to test out possible routes for MPs to force a new vote on EU membership.
The pair met at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, with the Eurocrat believed to have asked the former Labour leader “how optimistic are you that in case of a second vote, Remain would win this time?” – one of the questions proposed in the memo.
Their meeting took place shortly after Mrs May saw her deal suffer a historic first defeat in the Commons. MPs would vote it down an additional two times before she was forced to step down.
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The Prime Minister on Monday renewed his commitment to striking a deal with Brussels but insisted the backstop would have to be removed.
European Council President Donald Tusk dismissed the demand, claiming the British Government had not proposed “realistic alternatives” to avoid a hard border returning on the island of Ireland.
In a curt response on Twitter, President Tusk said: “The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found. Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support reestablishing a border.
“Even if they do not admit it.”
Mr Johnson announced earlier this month he will not be meeting with EU officials until they change their position but he will meet with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday and Thursday to talk ahead of the G7 Summit later this week in Biarritz.