'Let the people vote again on Brexit': Tony Blair

'I don't see what's wrong with saying to the British people, ‘Okay, finally, having seen it all, do you still want to go ahead?' declared Tony Blair, sitting opposite me in an office in central London.
We've come to the UK to learn more about Brexit. The saga that has plagued the UK for almost three years. It's all you hear about.
But what were the root causes, why is nothing progressing, and who's to blame? Even here, the answers aren't simple.
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The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has granted 60 Minutes a rare interview. And he's on a mission.
Tony Blair wants the UK to remain a member of the European Union.
The trouble is, he, along with 48 percent of ‘remain' voters in Great Britain, were on the wrong side of that battle.
'Did you incorrectly read the mood of the people?' I ask him.
He pauses, ponders his response, and says, 'Yeah. I think a lot of us did'.
'I think if you identify the drivers of it, there are very similar drivers of change around the western world,' Blair says.
'Because exactly the same drivers have delivered Donald Trump in America. And exactly the same drivers are upending European politics at the moment.
'Immigration, anxiety about the world changing fast beyond our control.
'Globalisation, which is a good thing and, in any event, an unstoppable thing, but it creates communities in people who feel left behind.'
According to Blair though, that was the mood three years ago, and people would likely have changed their mind by now.
When asked if a second public vote would betray the people who won the first, he says, 'I don't see why'.
'I mean, people voted to leave, but they voted before we began the Brexit process, before we understood properly all the options,' Blair says.
'We can now make an informed decision as to whether we still want to go ahead or not. I find it a curious argument.
'It's amazing how these people who have been agitating for Brexit are so wedded to this concept of the will of the people, but it's kind of the will of the people frozen at June 2016.'
As we chat, Mr Blair explains the depth of calamity plaguing the UK parliament.
'We've been trying to do something that is not doable, which is find a form of Brexit that's pain-free,' he says.
'Britain has literally given up on every other issue than Brexit for three years now.
'We're not playing our proper part in world affairs.
'That distractive impact of Brexit is as bad as the destructive impact.
'Now, after all this mess, what is really undemocratic to say to people, ‘Are you sure you still want to do this?'
'I mean, the reason people fear going back to the people is they fear that the people have changed their mind.'
Nigel Farage disagrees. For years, the right-wing politician – dubbed ‘Mr Brexit' – has been campaigning to free the UK from the clutches of Europe, and the EU – and institution he believes has hindered, rather than helped, his countrymen.
He dubs June 24, 2016, the UK's ‘Independence Day'.
'The referendum was amazing. I guess in many ways, there would not have been a referendum if it wasn't what'd I done,' Mr Farage says.
For years a fringe-dweller, the leader of UKIP had just helped deliver one of the greatest coups in the UK's recent history.
But now, he's angry.
'We're now nearly three years on, and there's zero progress,' Mr Farage says.
'We have the worst Prime Minister in my lifetime, who, rather like Oliver in the Dickens' novels, is going up and saying, ‘Please sir, can I have some more?'
One thing Nigel Farage and Tony Blair can agree on is Theresa May's leadership.
'We look weak, we look pitiful,' Mr Farage says.
But at least Theresa May has stuck at it. A remain voter, who says she's steadfastly committed to delivering the will of the people.
Nigel Farage on the other hand, quit as leader of UKIP once the referendum was won.
'Well, because we won. And getting out at the top is always a good thing in life.'
While Brexit voters should feel betrayed by the government, UKIP supporters shouldn't be betrayed by his decision, he says.
In any case, he's now leading a new political ground: the Brexit Party. And he's about to recontest his seat in the European Parliament. Something he concedes is a contradiction of his very actions.
'Life is full of all sorts of strange ironies. I would much rather not have to do this, but I'm going to do it and we will win again,' Mr Farage says.
Even though it's a platform he'd like to see go, Mr Farage plans to use his position as a MEP (member of the European Parliament) to continue to grandstand about Brexit.
'It's the most incredible platform. For the last five years, I've sat literally next door to Mr Junker, the boss of the European Commission,' he says.
'In terms of profile, in terms of publicity… I mean, look, again, ironically, it's been very good for me.'
He says he had a simple plan once Brexit was won: enact easy-to-understand trade deals and voila, the dream of Brexit becomes a reality.
As someone who knows a bit more about governing a country, Tony Blair has another view.
'What we've basically spent three years doing is the UK is trying to find the Brexit that allows you the same access we have now to the markets of Europe, without abiding by its rules,' he says.
'I'm afraid that was never going to happen. And in the last few months we've tried to have Brexit where we essentially postpone the choice about the future relationship Britain has with Europe until after we leave, and that's not a good idea, and that's why you've got the impasse in Parliament.
'So, that's why we are where we are now.'
What is clear, walking around London, is the division Brexit has caused.
Everyday outside Westminster, the flags of Great Britain and the EU fly high, held aloft by those campaigning for action on both sides. The UK has been divided into ‘remainers' and ‘leavers'.
But, they can agree on one thing. They're all sick to death of hearing about Brexit. Though their views on what action should be taken differ – right now, they'll welcome any kind of action.
With six prime ministers in the past 10 years, Australia is hardly immune from political ridicule. But I ask Tony Blair whether the UK has become a laughing stock too.
'Well, the world's used to seeing Britain with a pretty stable, strong political system, and we were probably the most stable and strongest political system in Europe, in many ways,' he says.
'So, it's distressing to see us in such a state of dysfunction.'
When quizzed on whether Brexit will actually happen – given its many setbacks – Mr Blair replied, 'I still think it's possible it will go back to the people'.
'I think there's a reasonable likelihood of that, if we end up with a long extension,' he says.
'And I think there's a reasonable likelihood if we do go back to the people that we'll vote to stay, because actually the rational case for Britain staying in Europe is overwhelming today.'

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