Tony Blair's speech in Brussels setting out his views on the implications of Brexit for the UK and the country's future relationship with the European Union, from Thursday 1 March.
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Thank you very much indeed, Fabio.
It is a great example of European
corporation, because I think you did
your Ph.D. In the city of my birth,
you then married a Scot, and you are
from Germany but you are living in
Brussels. It is pretty good. I hope
it is working out for you, anyway. I
am going to do my speech and then we
will have time for questions and
answers. I want to start by saying
Brexit is momentous
and life-changing for Britain.
The British people should
be given a final say
on whatever deal is negotiated.
If they are allowed that say,
then Brexit can be averted.
I and many others will work
passionately for that outcome.
But today I want to say
here in Brussels why Brexit
is also bad for Europe,
and why European leaders share
the responsibility to lead us out
of the Brexit cul-de-sac and find
a path to preserve
European unity intact.
For the first time since its
inception, a nation,
and a major one at that,
will have disrupted the onward march
of European cohesion,
left the European Union
and will have done so apparently
for reasons of principle at odds
with the whole rationale
for the union's existence.
Britain without Europe will lose
weight and influence.
But Europe without Britain will be
smaller and diminished.
And both of us will be less
than we are and much less
than we could be together.
In politics, there is a kind
of fatalism which can often
overwhelm what is right by making
the right course seem
hopeless or even delusional.
So it is with Brexit.
In the UK, we are told the people
have spoken and to interrogate
the question further is treachery.
The will of the people is deemed
clear and indisputable,
though what that will means
in practice given the complexity
of Brexit, the multiple
interpretations of it,
and the differing consequences
of each version, is - with every day
which passes - not clear at all.
But nonetheless we are told
we must just do it.
And in Europe there is often
a sorrowful shaking of heads
and a shrugging of the shoulders,
when what we need is strong engaged
leadership to avoid a rupture
which will do lasting damage
to us both.
I understand European reticence.
Until Europe sees real
signs that there could be
a change of mind in Britain,
why should it contemplate
the possibility of change in Europe?
However, the argument
in Britain is far from over.
It is in flux.
See the speech of
Jeremy Corbyn this week.
What I call the dilemma
of the negotiation ? close to Europe
to avoid economic damage
but therefore accepting its rules
or free from Europe's rules
but therefore accepting economic
damage - is finally prising
open the discourse.
It is a binary choice.
The cake will either be had or be
eaten but it will not be both.
The dilemma divides the Brexit vote.
Many of those who voted Brexit want
a clean break from Europe
even if there is economic
difficulty as a result.
And even if it soured
the politics of Ireland.
But many others would not want it
if there were an economic cost,
and would certainly believe that
peace in Ireland
should be protected.
Outside commentary under-estimates
the fact that at some point this
year the Government have got to put
a vote to Parliament and win it.
They will of course try to fudge,
but as we are seeing this cake
is quite resistant to fudge.
After last June's General Election,
winning this vote will be much
tougher than is commonly understood.
For once, Parliament in this
equation can be more
decisive than either
Government or opposition.
There are three legs to the stool
upon which could sit
a reconsideration of Brexit.
The first is to show the British
people that what they were told
in June 2016 has turned out much
more complex and costly
than they thought.
This leg is looking increasingly
robust as time goes on.
The second is to show
that there are different and better
ways of responding to the genuine
beneath the Brexit vote,
especially around immigration.
This leg is easy to construct
but needs willing workers.
The third is a openness on the part
of Europe to respond to Brexit
by treating it as a wake-up
call to change in Europe
and not just an expression
of British recalcitrance.
This is the leg to focus on today.
The stool needs all three legs.
For Europe, the damage of Brexit
is obvious and not so obvious.
In obvious terms, though
the economic pain for Britain,
especially of a clean break Brexit,
is large, the cost to Europe is also
significant and painful.
One in seven German cars is sold
in Britain and goods exports
in total are worth 3.5% of its GDP;
the figure for Ireland is 14% of GDP
and for Belgium over 7%; Britain
is a huge market for French produce
of many kinds; and a top three
export partner for ten EU members
including Italy and Spain.
Around 200,000 Dutch jobs
are involved in trade with the UK.
There are around 60 direct
flights between London
and Amsterdam every day.
According to the Dutch Government
agency CPB a hard Brexit could make
every Dutch person around
1000 euros poorer.
A Europe in which Britain finds it
harder to be a financial centre
for European business will be deeply
damaging for Britain
but it will also impede
the economy of Europe.
Estimates of the long term effect
on European growth vary depending
on the version of Brexit chosen,
but they vary from bad to very bad.
In short, no one I have spoken
to in the investment community
from the USA to China thinks this
is a good idea for
Britain or for Europe.
Because of these effects,
some in Britain believe that
therefore Europe will bend
its negotiating stance and allow
Britain largely unfettered access
to Europe's Single Market
without the necessity
of abiding by Europe's rules.
This won't happen because
quite simply it can't.
To do so, would risk unravelling
the Single Market and a return
to precisely the system
that was in place before Europe
wisely and in the interests
of its economy and with of course
the full urging of successive
British Governments decided
to create the Single Market.
But the damage to Europe
of a political nature
is to my mind more deleterious.
For Schuman and other founding
fathers, the project of European
unity was a project of peace,
cooperation in Europe
being the alternative to the wars
which had ravaged Europe
and the world in the first half
of the 20th century.
They looked back at the long history
of European nations and saw
centuries of conflict punctuated
by all too brief epochs
of relative harmony.
From the time of Charlemagne, Europe
had come together periodically,
but mainly through religion,
force or transitory necessity.
There had been an uneasy balance
of power arrangement towards the end
of the 19th century
but then the rivalries
of the great European nations
pitched them into a war no one ever
thought would prove as devastating
as it did.
The attempt out of it to produce
a new political settlement fell
victim to the competing totalitarian
ideologies of communism
and fascism and the descent
into the darkness of World War II.
Then, standing on the rubble
of destruction, they decided
to approach European unity
with renewed vigour and vowed
to give it institutional
and practical meaning.
Thus, began what has now
become the European Union.
The rationale for Europe today
is not peace but power.
For almost 300 years, the world has
been dominated by the West.
At the beginning of that time
the great powers were European,
with colonies and Empires.
Japan and China were of
course major nations,
but they were not shaping the world.
By the end of WW1, the United States
had emerged as the most powerful
nation, steadily eclipsing
the United Kingdom and stayed that
way through the 20th century.
But today, the world
is changing again.
China is today the second largest
economy, the biggest global trader
and as holder of huge amounts
of American debt, intimately
important to global prosperity.
If we look back at the top
economies in the year 2000,
Europe dominates the top ten.
Germany's was four times the size
of India's and larger than China's.
Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia
were distant specks
on the horizon far behind.
By 2016, the situation
India's economy is now almost
as large as the UK and France.
By 2030, India's economy
will be larger than those
of Germany or Japan.
Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico
are narrowing the gap.
China becomes the largest global
economy and seven or eight
times the size of the UK.
Look ahead to 2050, and India
is several times the size
of the German economy and no
European economy is in the top six.
With this economic change,
will come political change.
The West will no longer dominate.
And Europe, to retain the ability
to protect its interests and values,
will need to form a strong bloc
with the power collectively to do
what no European nation alone
will be able to do individually.
Regard the regions
of the world today.
Everywhere, in reaction to this
fundamental shift in geo-politics,
countries are banding together,
from south-east Asia
to the continent of Africa.
Nations are in a desperate scramble
to find their place in a world
in which no one wants to be forced
to choose between the big powers or
unable to withstand their demands.
For Europe, much more is at stake
than trade or commerce.
Yes, Nato remains the cornerstone
of Western security policy.
under this administration,
is signalling the limits
of its appetite for military
commitment, and where current events
in Turkey show the fragility of some
of the assumptions of alliance
within Nato, it is foolish,
indeed dangerous, for Europe not
to have the independent capacity
to protect its interests.
If the SAHEL erupts who will bear
the brunt of the eruption?
But who will we be
obliged to call upon?
Of course, Britain can maintain
a close relationship on defence
even outside the EU.
It still represents 25%
of European defence spending.
I welcome the British PM's speech
to the Munich conference
and the excellent paper recently
from the German Council
on Foreign Relations.
But how much more effective
would such cooperation be
if we were still part of Europe's
Instead we are in the surreal
position of proclaiming our desire
for tighter European cooperation
in defence just as we withdraw
from Europe's political
framework for doing so.
How can we police our borders
except through common
strategy, or fight terrorism
but through enhanced integration
of intelligence and surveillance,
or protect our privacy from either
foreign Governments or corporate
behemoths other than by the strength
which comes from size?
Do we seriously believe that
if we had approached negotiation
on climate change as individual
countries, rather than as Europe,
we would have driven
the agenda in the way we did?
But it is more than this.
Our values are also in play.
Brexit is happening at a pivotal
point in Western politics.
Parts of our politics are today
with visceral cultural
as well as economic rifts,
with politicians who strive
for answers swept aside by those
riding the anger, a sterile
policy agenda focusing
on who to stigmatise,
and barely touching the real forces
of change which are technological,
and conventional media locked
in an ugly embrace with social
media to create a toxic,
scandal driven, rancorous
environment for debate which risks
destruction of democracy's soul.
Meanwhile there are new powers
emerging who look sceptically
at Western democracy today and think
there may be a different,
less democratic model to follow.
For the first time, not
just our power but our value system
is going to be contested.
We need at this moment for Europe
to regain its confidence,
take courage and set a course
for the future which re-kindles
the spirit of optimism.
I believe firmly in
the trans-Atlantic alliance.
Despite what it may sometimes seem,
so do most Americans.
In the new geo-politics,
we need each other for reasons just
as compelling as those
which thrust us together
in the early 20th century.
Especially at a time when America
with its own political upheaval
and is hard to read and easy
to parody, Europe should be
far-sighted enough to keep
the alliance strong, to be
determined in defending our values
from those who would de-stabilise
us, and to send a message
to the rest of the world
that Europe will grow
in power in the 21st century
precisely because of those values.
None of this can in any way be
advanced by Britain's
departure from Europe.
It rips out of Europe one
of the alliance's most
It weakens Europe's standing
and power the world over.
It reduces the effectiveness
of the Single Market
by removing from it Europe's
second largest economy.
And Britain out of Europe
will ultimately be a focal point
of disunity, when the requirement
for unity is so manifest.
No matter how we try,
it will create a competitive
pole to that of Europe,
economically and politically
to the detriment of both of us.
More contentiously, I believe
it risks an imbalance
in the delicate compromise
that is the European polity.
Britain supports the nation-state
as the point of originating
legitimacy for European integration.
Others are more comfortable
with the notion of ever closer
Union leading over time
to a more federal structure.
The truth is that the anxieties
which led to the Brexit vote
are felt all over Europe.
They're not specific to the British.
Read the latest Eurobarometer
of public opinion.
In many countries, similar
referendums might have
had similar results.
I know from experience that Britain
is often the argumentative
partner who speaks up,
but there is frequently
a large group of others
sheltering behind us,
glad there is a voice in the room
articulating what others think
but are shy of saying.
Even the famed Franco-German motor
can need British spare parts
and lubricants even if they come
with the odd bit of grit,
and from time to time,
British mechanics can work
with others to create
a back-up engine.
President Macron has sensibly
proposed a series of Europe wide
debates on Europe's future
in recognition of the strains
in European politics.
These will not work, however,
if they become merely a way
of explaining to European citizens
why their worries are misplaced.
It should be a real dialogue.
The populism convulsing
Europe must be understood
before it can be defeated.
Immigration is a genuine fear with
causes which cannot be dismissed.
Many feel the European project
is too much directed
to the enlargement of European
institutions rather than to projects
which deliver change
in people's daily lives.
There is much good work done by this
and the previous Commission
to reduce regulation
and bureaucracy, unfortunately
usually ignored or over-shadowed.
But we should recognise
this is still an issue
for people all over Europe.
The things Europe is doing
to build its capability to make
the lives of Europeans better -
in energy, digitalisation,
defence and security need to be
driven forward with much
And the difference between those
in the Euro zone and those
outside it will require
different governance arrangements.
Europe knows it needs reform.
Reform in Europe is key to getting
Britain to change its mind.
There should surely be
a way of alignment.
A comprehensive plan
on immigration control,
which preserves Europe's values
but is consistent with the concerns
of its people and includes
sensitivity to the challenges
of the freedom of movement
principle, together with a road map
for future European reform
which recognises the issues
underpinning the turmoil
in traditional European politics
and is in line with what many
European leaders are already
advocating, would be right
for Europe and timely for the
evolving British debate on Brexit.
If at the point Britain
is seized of a real choice,
not about whether we like Europe
or not ? the question of June 2016 ?
but whether on mature
reflection the final deal
the British Government offers
is better than what we have, if,
at this moment, Europe was to offer
a parallel path to Brexit of Britain
staying in a reforming Europe,
that would throw open
the debate to transformation.
People will say it can't happen.
To which I say in these times
in politics anything can happen.
In any event, it depends
on what magnitude of
decision you think this is.
There are errors in politics
of passing significance.
And there are mistakes of destiny.
If we believe and I do, that this
is of the latter kind, we cannot
afford passive acquiescence.
Those whose vision gave rise
to the dream of a Europe unified
in peace after centuries of war
and whose determination
translated that dream
into practical endeavour,
their ghosts should
be our inspiration.
They would not have yielded
to fatalism and neither should we.
We have months, perhaps weeks
to think, plan and act.
Let's be clear.
Even if Brexit is Britain s future,
and yours is a European Union
without Britain, we can't
alter our geography,
history or manifold ties
of culture and nature.
This is a divorce that can never
mean a physical separation.
We are consigned to co-habiting
the same space, trying to get along
but resenting our differences
and re-living what broke us apart,
awkward silences at the breakfast
table, arguing over the rules
with no escape from each other.
But ? and here is the supreme irony
? with so much in common
and still liking each other.
Better to make our
future work together.
If we don't, a future generation
will, but their verdict
on ours will be harsh for time
wasted and opportunity spurned.
It doesn't take a miracle.
It takes leadership.
And now is when we need it.
Thank you very much.
I will have a
couple of questions before opening
it up to the audience. You mentioned
towards the end that we have only
weeks or months. We are all aware
that we have the Article 50 clock
ticking in the background. What
needs to be done in these months and
weeks and how can we stop that clock
It needs to become
clear that there is no escape from
the dilemma. Either you are close to
Europe and you have to abide by the
rules, but minimises the economic
damage or you are going the own way
but you are not part of the economic
system and you are going to do
damage to yourself. That dilemma
needs to become clear. It needs to
become clear but I think it is
becoming clear that there is not a
majority in parliament to do damage
to our country. The third thing that
needs to happen is we need to
realise on both sides that March
2019 is the data that has to be
sorted out before then. You know, we
have spent one year with the British
Government basically trying to say
that as a way of having our cake and
eating it. It is clear that there is
not. I think now is when you are
getting and Excel rating
understanding of what the basic
problems are. Northern Ireland shows
it very clearly. I think British
opinion will start to move once
people realise that this is not
about being a tough week negotiator,
this is about a fundamental problem
that cannot be resolved by the
exercise of political manoeuvring.
It can only be resolved by coming to
a choice that is either going to
lead you to long-term economic or
short-term economic damage and
possibly long-term economic damage,
or ending up any situation that I
think British people will find
unsatisfactory of abiding by British
rules and not being a decision maker
any more. If someone can find a way
out of that difficulty, I am ready
to hear it but I cannot see it. That
is what is going to accelerate this
You were talking about the
need to have a reformed Europe as
well or a plea for a reformed
Europe. What would you say to those
who say, we have been here before.
The renegotiation with David Cameron
really was what was on the table in
terms of reforms and it was rejected
in the referendum.
Yes, I think what
I would say is European reform fit
into three categories. There are
things that people across Europe are
anxious about. I would put
immigration and anxieties about that
as the number one question. I think
that a combination of what Europe
wants to do in strengthening its own
external borders and a mix of
Britain in forcing what rules can
enforce them freedom of movement,
but also with some latitude on the
UDP inside. That, in my view, would
go in long way to fixing the
anxieties. -- latitude on the
European side. These are all things
we discussed over a long period of
time. The second area were things I
was talking about, comment energy
and defence. Europe is gearing
itself up to talk about these
questions anyway. It is not as if we
are going against the grain of what
Europe once. We need to set out some
clear principles where we are going
to go and thirdly is the issue
around governance changes within the
euro zone and outside the euro zone.
Most people in Europe understand
this has got to happen. I do not
think we need to decide all of this
now because that would be far too
quick a timetable but there needs to
be a clear sense that the anxieties,
not just of British citizens, but of
European citizens are being
addressed, and there is a process in
place for a Europe that is going to
make sense of the different
arrangements of the European
countries. Frankly, it is also a
matter of putting what we have in
Europe today against what the
Government is going to offer us.
Look, I know people say to me this
is a certain exercise and it does
not possible to change this but I
think the debate is opening up now.
The question... I understand the
frustrations in Europe but we are
going to have to find a way to make
this work because of working in new.
Thank you. I will open it up to the
audience. I will take two or three
questions together and if you could
please identify who you are and the
organisation you represent. I have
already got three or four fewer. I
will start with freezer.
microphone is just coming. I
remember you did three good speeches
out of Britain when you were Prime
Minister. My question really is to
the audience that you once
represented in the north-east of
England, one of the highest leave
votes. Do you think the arguments
you put forward today are
significant enough to change their
views in terms of getting support
for Europe? Where is the leadership
you advocated at the very end going
to come from?
Thank you. John, a
senior adviser at the BBC. Thank you
for an excellent speech.
It is very difficult for many of us
here... You have made fascinating
observations. I wanted to ask you
that you consider a Brexit Britain
as emerging as a competing poke to
the union. Could you elaborate on
that a bit more and how destructive
it may become?
Thank you. I will
take one more question.
Mark Johnson. Mr Blair, 20 years ago
when he became Prime Minister you
try and the press barons in order
that the new Labour programme could
go ahead. Many of those same press
barons today continue to pour poison
into the public debate in the UK
about this situation. So far as I
can recall, you have never called
them out for that behaviour. Why is
that so and reduce the prepared to
do so now, given all that that is at
stake? Thank you very much.
I think those are the three British
questions even though we are in
Brussels. But they are very good
questions. I represented is
constituency in the north of England
that voted substantially to leave.
My successor was a strong advocate
for remain. He stayed a strong
advocate of remain and, you know, I
think a much better position for the
Labour Party to be in today is to
say what it really believes, which
is that Brexit is not an answer to
the questions that people have. If
you are someone who is worried about
unemployment, lack of opportunity,
communities left behind, Brexit is
going to make all of those problems
worse. Brexit affects regions like
the north of England is much more
than regions and the south, like
London. At some point I think the
most powerful thing to say about
Brexit, if I were back in politics
today and Leader of the Opposition,
and unlikely hypothesis, I know, but
if I was I would be hammering the
Tories all of the time. Not just on
the destructive impact of Brexit but
the distracting impact of Brexit.
All of the issues of the country are
not getting dealt with because there
is no more energy. If you are in the
north-east of England you are
worried about the economy, health
service, jobs, we could be making
that case powerfully and I believe
in the end, you know, this is an
argument that can persuade large
numbers of people. You're never
going to persuade the people that
they are a minority who have this
view that Britain has got to be out
of Europe because that is what we
will allow Britain to become what it
once was. You are never going to
persuade those people. There are
other people in that coalition that
brought us Brexit who did a cost
benefit analysis and believed that
if they got out of Brexit there was
350 million extra we would get for
the health service. It turns out it
is not, there is less because our
growth rates are down. I think those
people could be persuaded if we took
a strong leadership position. To the
question about Britain as a
competing power. You see, if Britain
comes out of Europe... And we come
out of the single market and Customs
union, inevitably we are going to
have to restructure our economy.
We're going to have to market
ourselves differently as a company.
We have attracted investment into
Britain on the basis people like the
language, culture, the quite like
the British and it is a good place
to be for the European market. You
get out of all of that, you're going
to find a different way forward. I
think even though the rest of Europe
will say we do not want this and the
British Government is already saying
we do not want this. David Davis
gave his speech the other week.
We're going to be driven to it. By
the way, the people behind this
Brexit project, that is what they
want. Their dislike of Europe is the
political culture of Europe. Their
dislike of Europe is all the stuff
about solidarity and human rights
and this social Democratic climate
in Europe. They do not like it.
They think the Thatcherite
revolution in Britain was never
fully completed. Further Brexit is
the first step in a two step change
in Britain. The next step is indeed
to get Britain to compete on the
basis of saying look at these
Europeans, they have got all this
regulation and bureaucracy and we
are Britain. So whatever people say,
I think this is what would happen.
And the destructive impact of that
would be immense because it will
weaken Europe, it will cause great
stresses and strains. I came from...
I got the train from London to
Brussels, it is a shorter journey
from going from London to you did
your Ph.D. In Edinburgh. We are
going to be in this crazy situation
where we are right in the same
geographical space with all these
ties and if we are out with those
European markets, we will be
constantly looking for ways of
demonstrating a relevance and
demonstrating that it was the right
thing to have done. So I think
this... I am afraid it is inevitable
if we go ahead with this and I think
it will be bad for both of us. On
the press barons, I have made it
clear recently, this is what I call
the media cartel. On the right of
the British media, this has been a
major factor in creating this sort
of toxic atmosphere around Europe,
of sustaining the Brexit campaign
and have no by the way, if you read
those newspapers in Britain, you
will think the whole thing is going
really well. Europeans are obviously
unreasonable. Apart from them, it is
going very well. The one thing... My
differences to Jeremy Corbyn are
well-known, but the one thing I do
think about the last election is it
also showed the limits of their
ability. But it is a powerful factor
and I think it is a dismissive
My name is Paul Adamson. Until you
mentioned talking about immigration
and free movement, the need for a
latitude, your choice of word on EU
27. You are a strategic Don Quixote.
Based on talks you have had in the
last few months, how confident are
you that that will be forthcoming?
Thank you for your speech. You
touched upon the notion of European
reform. There are different models
out there today, the IPPR is showing
assured market model, there is the
continental partnership. I would be
interested in your thoughts on this?
Ellie Mears. You talked about
European reform and a big part of
that is reforming the immigration
system and coming up with a
comprehensive system. How do you
then square the circle of there
being two very different outcomes in
terms of immigration in Europe. In
places like Germany, there was a big
welcome for refugees and we do have
a massive war on our doorstep. But
then you also have the Eastern
European countries who would say
that culturally they are not ready
to take in refugees from other
countries. How do you, in a
comprehensive migration plan, how do
you reconcile those two views?
first of all on the issue of free
movement. From my discussions with
European leaders, if they thought
Britain was serious about staying
within Europe, then I think there
would be a combination of a better
deal from Europe than the wind David
Cameron was able to secure, and also
very importantly an understanding
that Britain was going to have to
apply for the freedom of movement
rules more vigorously. It is
important to be open about this with
the British people. Governments
prioritise the economy over
controlling migration. We did it for
sensible reasons. We had a booming
economy and when you do an analysis
of European migrant workers, it
turns out we need most of them. And
when you go through the categories,
we have now got a problem in health
service today because the downturn
of European migrant workers. We need
the high skilled workers and we need
the students and the seasoned
workers. The people who come to
Britain looking for work, most of
whom I suspect go into, end up
working in bars and processing in
London and the South, but if we want
this, we could do what they do in
Belgium, which is, you have to find
work within a couple of months or
you go back. There are lots of
changes we could make if we want
them. I think this is something for
negotiation. But my feeling from
talking to other European leaders is
that people recognise emigration is
a problem in the whole of Europe. If
the price of European unity was
addressing these issues, they would
do it. In respect, Tom, what you're
talking about and reform in Britain.
I think the reforms are two sorts
apart from what I was in an
immigration. There are these
institutional questions that are
bound to be important, that our
changes that many people are
proposing. This is common in the
European debate. The other thing is,
I think... I have said this for a
long, long time in Europe, one of
the things we have got to do is
present an agenda for change in
Europe which coincides with what
most people in Europe will think is
going to improve their own lives.
And by the way there are lots of
things that Europe does that it
never kind of talks about in the
right way which would make a real
difference. Let me give you some
examples, digitalisation. We
actually need... Wires at that
Europe has not got big tech in the
same way that America has? We have
not created a genuine single market
in the digital sphere. A common
energy policy. A true common energy
policy would reduce costs
enormously. It could do that.
Education today is not just about
educating people, it is also a major
part of serving the British economy
and the European economy. There is
much more we could do together in
that sphere. If you talk about
energy supply, Europe has today some
quite bold plans as to how it is
going to ensure its security of
supply in the years to come. We
could be making much more of these
things for the people of Europe. And
that means more to them than some of
the more arcane institutional
disputes that often dominate,
costumes -- questions of European
reform. I don't quite know what
the... I know a lot of people in
Britain are looking for cooperation
out of the European Union and Europe
which mean that we would still align
ourselves with European rules. The
one thing I am certain of
politically, I am certain of this,
is any compromise, and this is part
of the problem that government has,
any compromise that involves as
abiding by European rules outside of
Europe, is never going to attract
the British people. And you will
find, if it happens, you will find a
large number of British people, and
this is the whole point, the divide
into two camps. There will be those
whose the, that is not good enough,
we want a clean break. It will
causes damage, we will take the
damage. There is another group of
people who will say, we might as
well stay. This is the problem. What
the British government is trying to
do is square that circle. The whole
time they come back to the same
thing. It is a kind of weird thing.
The UDP negotiators, you know, they
are trying to pull cards with EU...
-- the European negotiators. There
could be a steering wheel on the
right hand or left hand. Every time
the British negotiators turned up,
they say, we will offer you a
donkey. The European scene all,
we're talking cars here. Then they
come back weeks later, we have
something else. That is not going to
work. That is why the reform in
Europe, in the end, it only really
works in my view if it is for the
British, if it is for the whole of
Europe and Britain stay. Reform
Britain which leaves Britain have in
or have out, will not work. Finally
on the immigration question, look, I
am not... I think it is a really
good question. Here is my feeling. I
think even in Germany, there is a
lot of anxiety about immigration
questions. What is the problem with
immigration? The problem is that
there is no doubt that overall it is
a good thing. You look at the
successful economies of the world,
there is immigration. You look for
example, talking technology, look at
the big companies in Silicon Valley,
think of how many of those
businesses have been start --
started by immigrants. If I think of
the two big companies in the UK in
artificial intelligence, both of
them started by migrants. So
emigration, you know, improves
economies, it brings a new energy,
vitality and ideas and innovation.
Remember, when Japan was going to
overtake the world and become the
great power, in the 1980s. So if we
fast forward to today, one of the
reasons why Japan has not succeeded
in the way people thought they had,
it is because of immigration.
Immigration is a good thing for the
company -- country, but it is a big
change. And if you want to make
immigration work, the way of dealing
with it and the dilemma you quite
rightly raised, is in my view you
have got to have rules so you do not
have prejudices. But if you do not
have rules, you stimulate the claim
it for prejudice. And the real
problem that people have with
immigration as they look at what is
happening on Europe's borders and
they think we cannot control this,
they are coming in and they worry.
They worry about the change in their
society. I think in the UK's is the
worry is less to do with immigration
from within Europe than outside
Europe. Particularly, again, to be
frank about it, migration from
majority Muslim countries where
people are anxious about those who
come and share the same value
system. It is a problem. I know -- I
think there is a way of dealing with
the problem but it requires us to
understand that the fears of
immigration are not all prejudice,
there are genuine anxieties. You
have got to deal with the anxieties
so you can register prejudice. But
if you just kind of say, if you are
a region -- raising emigration, you
are an idiot. Then you lose the
argument. In the Italian debate, in
the Italian election, how big an
issue is immigration? In my
experience, Italy is a big factor. I
think, if Europe takes a really
strong, clear position on
immigration, which distinguishes
clearly between bills and
prejudices, then I think we can come
through it. But I think it will be a
big mistake to think it is about
Eastern Europe or Britain. It is a
genuine problem and it can only be
dealt with whether far-sighted
policy that has an understanding of
people's desire for control at the
same time as a complete
identification of European values,
solidarity and basic human rights
and so on.
Thank you. Prime Minister, if I
understood correctly, you partly
blame the EU side for Brexit. Did I
understand correctly? In the
negotiations right now, do you feel
that the European Union is not doing
enough to keep Britain in because
they are saying that they are sorry,
but if they are sorry, should they
do more to give some sort of option
to Britain? Either doing that? I
hope Brexit does not happen but if
it does happen, are we going to see
a second Scottish referendum?
Northern Ireland getting closer to
the Republic of Ireland than to the
united kingdom and England? How do
you see this? And if it happens,
Brexit, Turkey is ready to fill the
I am working on the youth employment
Young people were in favour
of a remain foot. Although... Can
they compromise the long-term
future? There is a sense of
betrayal. How important as those in
the coming weeks and months to rely
on listening to young people's voice
in a debate for a second referendum?
Thank you. The frontier, please.
behind you. Sorry. I beg your
pardon. Thank you for another great
speech. I wanted to ask you
something about the euro. You spoke
mostly about migration, about the
single market but would you think
that the fact that the UK is not a
part of the euro, and there is no
leader, even half litre, in the UK
who has been advocating entry of the
UK into the euro, do you think this
is really a difficulty? That in a
sense the UK outside of the euro was
never, and would never be at the
centre of the European project as it
has evolved, because the European
project is not just about, it is
about the single market, but it is
about something more. Is that not a
danger that the UK is on the margin
of the European project as it is in
2018? There is nonetheless this
difficulty of the UK and does that
not mean that we need to have a
project between Europe and the UK
about what puts us together, which
is the single market? It is not the
EU, but it is the single market part
of the EU. Is that not how we should
think of the future relationship?
Thank you. So,...
The first question was very nicely
put at the end there. And I always
remember when I had the presidency
of the European Union, the
negotiations with Turkey, but things
have changed since then, let's say.
But, no, I do not think... I think
the European negotiators are doing
what they have been called upon by
Europe to do. I think the one thing
I would say is, if it looks like...
Obviously, this is very apparent to
me. In Britain the whole debate is
Brexit. Every day it is Brexit. Even
I wake up and I'd think, it is
Brexit again. There is a groundhog
day quality that comes to this. I am
acutely aware of the fact that if
you are in Germany or France or
Italy, you're not talking about
Brexit the whole time. What I would
say is that if it looks like Britain
is genuinely opening up the debate
in the way I have described. If it
is going to become clear that the
Government is going to find it hard
to get a proposition through
Parliament, I think it is important
that Europe also recognises the
purpose of a speech today that if we
can avoid this, it is also good for
us. We are not doing Britain a
favour, it is going to be damaging
for Europe is Brexit goes ahead.
That is the right way to look at it.
I think in respect of the UK, at one
level I think short-term, even if
Brexit happens, even if the worst
type of Brexit happens, you are not
going to break the UK up.
Short-term. But I think long term it
will impose real strains because
that is no answer to this Irish
border question. People keep
treating the Irish border question
is if it was separate from the
overall dilemma. It is not. It is a
metaphor for the overall dilemma.
The problem in Northern Ireland is
the problem you will have really
come to the financial sector. You're
either in the single market and in
the rules and that is fine, or your
outfit, in which case it is going to
be damaging. I think in time,
therefore, my worry is not in the
immediate term but it does overtime,
likewise in Scotland. That is where
we are. I think in respect of young
people, yes, I think this is a big
issue. I met a group of young people
the other day who had formed
themselves into one of the several
groups who are agitating to have a
final say on the deal. I do think...
I know this from my own children.
They do feel that they can see the
way the world is changing much
easier than the older generation
because they are comfortable with
the notion of difference. I always
say to people, when I was growing up
in the north of England in County
Durham, I remember the day, I was 12
years old, when I met the first
person who wasn't white. If I looked
round the table at one of my
youngest sons are big parties, he is
17 now, but through the years, there
were different people of different
faiths, colours, and it has been
natural. I think young people are
not frightened by this, the
difference, it is opportunity,
worries about costs of tuition fees.
I think there is a profound sense of
betrayal for young people. It is
important if we do get to final say
on the deal is that there is a real
dialogue between the generations
will younger people say to the older
generation, come on, this is our
future. Anyway, we will see. The
final question about the euro is a
very difficult but very pertinent
question. Look, my view about the
euro was always put equate it was
the right thing for Britain. My
worry was economic. I think if you
look back at the creation of the
Eurozone, probably it would have
been better if it had been created
any more organic way. I remember
vividly the dinner that we had when
I was the first president of the
European Union in 1998, I think. We
had all the European leaders around
the table, it was pre-imagined. I
was trying to raise the argument
because I had come into power, we
were not going to join the euro but
I was keen to leave the door open
for a future time if Britain came to
the view it was the right thing to
do. I was putting the question of
whether it would be better to start
with the core of European countries
and start up from those. I remember
the Swedish premised at the time
coming in and giving a very eloquent
and quite prescient analysis of what
the future problems of the euro
might be. I remember it because
Helmut Kohl is to come to the
meetings and he was a large presence
in the room. I was remember that
he... Everyone else had the napkin
on the need -- on their neat, but he
would put it there. We were having a
discussion and he put down his knife
and fork and said, no, we're going
to do this together. Everyone is
going to be in at the same time. It
is apolitical project, it is not
just about economic. That is what is
going to happen.
That is what happened. I think
history will debate the correctness
of that, or otherwise. I got the
politics but I think the economic 's
is an issue. I think going forward
you are right that what we can do is
how we concentrate on how we
complete the single market in a way
that lays a stronger foundation for
the single currency. There are many
areas in the single market not yet
completed. One of the things that is
most restricting for people like
myself about the whole Brexit debate
is the extraordinary irony that the
two things at the British
Government, Labour or Conservative,
always agreed on and always fought
for was the single market and
enlargement. Now we have reached a
situation where was Brexit the
reason we say we want Brexit is
because of the migrants from eastern
Europe and we want out of the single
market because that means we have to
abide by the single market's rules.
It is an extraordinary thing we have
come to. I do believe this
relationship can be repaired. It
will beef important to focus on
that. -- be important. There is a
difference with the European
countries and that is going to
happen anyway. There are several
countries outside the euro zone and
will stay for the future at least
outside of the Eurozone. I think it
can be mailed to work for the both
of us. We have to accept there is
going to be different tiers of
integration. I am not keen on
concepts of two speed Europe kind of
thing, you have to remain with the
flexibility but there is no doubt,
and already there is true, there is
going to be a greater integration of
countries inside the Eurozone than
those who are not in it.
very much. Unfortunately, we're
running out of time. I note there
were a lot of people who wanted to
comment. Maybe we can continue this
debate at a future point. I remember
about 16 months ago we had Donald
Tusk saying to us that the only
alternative to have Brexit was no
Brexit. So, 16 months on we still
have that debate. As you said, time
is very short. We have months, maybe
weeks, to see whether there will be
no Brexit. If it is not no Brexit,
probably it will be a hard Brexit,
with all of the consequences you
have outlined. I am very grateful
you may be time to come here and to
also talk to us about what you think
should be happening on the European
side. So, thank you very much and I
hope we can continue this
Thank you very much.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair's speech in Brussels setting out his views on the implications of Brexit for the UK and the country's future relationship with the European Union, from Thursday 1 March.