Britain and EU should prepare for second Brexit referendum: Former UK PM

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair repeatedly called for the reversal of the Brexit since 2016. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Britain and EU should prepare for second Brexit referendum: Former UK PM

  • Former UK PM told EU leaders they should offer to reform the bloc to make it more attractive for Britain to remain
  • He said if parliament can't come up with a deal, the people will need to break the deadlock

LONDON: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will say on Friday that Britain and the European Union should prepare for a second Brexit referendum because parliament will probably fail to agree on a divorce deal and the public will need to break the deadlock.
Less than four months before Britain is due to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May called off a parliamentary vote on her deal with Brussels this week after admitting it would be heavily defeated.
Addressing EU leaders meeting in Brussels, Blair said they should offer to reform the bloc to make it more attractive for Britain to remain.
“Now should be the time of preparation – parliament to make sure it can canvass the options in (a) sensible manner, one by one, to reach agreement on an option or a referendum; Europe to ensure that if Britain is ready to think again, Europe is ready also to think again,” Blair, who was Labour prime minister from 1997 to 2007, will say in a speech in London.
Blair’s office released extracts of the speech in advance.
An offer by the EU to reform would show “that the political leadership of Europe and Britain had listened to the underlying concerns of those who voted (for) Brexit, not disrespecting the concerns but meeting them in a way which is not damaging.”
Blair has repeatedly called for reversing Brexit since the 2016 referendum, echoing other critics, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who have suggested Britain could still change its mind.
Blair will say it is perverse that the Britain and the EU are preparing for a potentially economically damaging Brexit without any deal, but not another referendum.
“We know the options for Brexit. Parliament will have to decide on one of them. If Parliament can’t then it should decide to go back to the people.”


France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

Updated 40 min 6 sec ago
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France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

  • Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion
  • Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers

PARIS: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to have the case thrown out, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion in return for leaked information about a separate inquiry. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.
As they eavesdropped on his calls, the investigators began to suspect the former president had offered the judge promotion in return for information on another investigation involving allegations Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for the same campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a “fishing expedition” by tapping his conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations.
On Wednesday, his defence team said the use in this case of wiretapped remarks gleaned in relation to a different investigation contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
"These legal issues are still relevant," Sarkozy lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights."
Wednesday's ruling that the trial proceed came from the 'Cour de Cassation', which decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.