Just when we thought we had left Tony Blair in the sorry past, he last week came back from the dead to haunt us all. And just in case the political landscape wasn’t chaotic enough, into the unchartered waters of Britain’s severance from the European Union waded Blair, with the confidence of a man who could, say, take a country to war and refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing. But if anything is likely to render an argument to eternal damnation, it is surely Tony Blair. Particularly Tony Blair as some conglomeration of a disciple, a figurehead, and a fool.
In an interview with the New Statesman last week, Blair claimed Brexit ‘can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up… Why wouldn’t you say, “we took this decision, we took it before we saw what its consequences are; now we see its consequences, we’re not so sure?”’ Because, Mr Blair, that is not how democracy works. He then went on to liken Brexit to a house swap, claiming that the leave vote was similar to ‘agreeing to a house swap without having seen the other house.’
Ironically, though, Blair’s pussyfooting may drum the final nail into the coffin of commitment from the Remain camp, some of whom are increasingly disenchanted with the castrated cries from their former allies. One anecdotal example is Gina Miller, who triumphantly exasperated Brexiteers – and delighted the media – by demanding that parliament approves the government’s decision to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Miller’s energy is admirable, and her gumption is inspiring, but by delaying the inevitable we risk looking weak and indecisive to the EU. In supplanting Cameron – oh wherefore art thou – in favour of Blair, not only do the remainers look weak and indecisive, but also craven. Blair is so disliked that his renaissance and his coronation as a figurehead for the Remain movement threatens to actively repel individuals who want to stay in the bosom of Brussels.
The problem is now that we are, unquestionably, attempting to navigate unchartered political waters. There is no written constitution dictating what we should do and how we should do it. Over 33 million of us voted. 51.9% of those who voted wanted to leave the European Union. The people have spoken. Renegotiating the power of the people, as Blair suggests, in fact undermines the electorate intellectually and constitutionally. To deny the referendum, or to attempt to overturn it, would suffocate democracy.
I voted to stay in the EU. I voted because – obviously – I desperately wanted to stay in the EU. I was bitterly disappointed that the Leave vote won. But the majority of the electorate voted to leave, so leave we must.
There’s an excellent Italian phrase, cavoli riscaldati, which translates to something along the lines of ‘reheated cabbage.’ Cavoli riscaldati is used with reference to trying to revive failed relationships – don’t reheat cabbage, don’t rewalk over trodden ground, etc. How’s your Italian, Mr Blair?