Brexit: UK will ‘benefit from control of laws’ says Frost
The former prime minister and arch-europhile warned Northern Ireland “is not stable” after Britain’s EU exit and claimed the process has damaged “many small companies”.Britain formally left the EU in January 2020 but remained closely tied to the bloc during the Brexit transition period.
When this ended in December the UK regained control of its trade policy and no longer has to implement laws made in Brussels.
Mr Blair argued the EU’s sluggish Covid-19 vaccine rollout could have gone better if Britain was still a member.
He told Austrian magazine Profil: “You know that I am an opponent of Brexit.
“It is and will remain a terrible strategic mistake for my country. Brexit fans are now showing off the vaccination success.
Tony Blair described Brexit as “a terrible strategic mistake”
“You know that I am an opponent of Brexit”
“But we could have done all of this within the EU. Conversely, I find it rather interesting what the EU is missing out on because Great Britain is no longer an EU member.
“If we British were still in the EU, the procurement of the vaccine would not have been taken out of the hands of the nation states.
“Any British government would have insisted on that. That is the only reason why Europe is now ten weeks behind.”
Over a third of the adult British population has now been vaccinated, a far higher figure than in any other European country.
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Had the UK remained in the EU it would likely have faced intense pressure to join the European Commissions failed procurement scheme.
However, Mr Blair insisted “Europe will catch up quickly” making it “a much smaller problem by the middle of this year”.
The ex-Prime Minister was a staunch Remain campaigner ahead of the 2016 referendum and then endorsed a second referendum after Britain voted leave.
During the interview, he warned of the situation in Northern Ireland, which Mr Blair helped to bring peace to with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
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The UK’s Covid vaccination scheme is well ahead of the EU’s
Tony Blair pushed for a second Brexit referendum
He said: “Northern Ireland is not stable within its borders.
“Many small companies are seriously suffering from Brexit.
“It is foreseeable that politicians will take advantage of this for their own purposes.
“Brexit brings many problems, the British government does not need to complain about that now. These are all consequences of their decisions.”
The Government is currently locked in a row with Brussels over Northern Ireland after unilaterally deciding to delay extra checks on its trade with Great Britain.
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As part of Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal, Northern Ireland remains tied to the European single market, resulting in some customs checks on its trade with the rest of Britain.
However, this has infuriated unionists with DUP leader Arlene Foster demanding the controversial Northern Ireland backstop is scrapped.
Mr Blair argued British and European politicians need to cooperate to address outstanding issues.
Britain formally left the EU in January 2020
He argued: “What we need is real statecraft from British and European politicians.
“We need to work together on important issues like future pandemics, the climate crisis, energy issues. There are also real opportunities, such as defence and business cooperation.
“Politicians on both sides must now be ready to invest a little bit of political capital in order to improve relations with one another.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.