Tony Blair waded into the row over the European Election result today – suggesting that it was a victory for Remainers despite the Brexit Party running away with the result.
The former Labour Prime Minister was the latest pro-EU figure to attempt to turn the result away from a crushing victory for Nigel Farage.
He said that the Remainer vote was bigger than that of both the Brexit Party and Ukip combined but failed to mention the votes won by the Conservative Party, which also backs Brexit.
His comments provoked uproar from Brexiteers who accused him of having a poor grasp of the numbers involved in the election.
The row is not the first time Mr Blair interpretation of facts has been questioned.
In 2016 a report into the Iraq War by Sir John Chilcot strongly criticised the way Mr Blair led the country into the conflict in 2003 on the basis of ‘flawed’ intelligence.
The Brexit Party romped home in the elections yesterday, raking in 31.6 per cent of the vote despite being formed only six weeks ago.
The Lib Dems were a distant second on 20.3 per cent, ahead of Labour on 14.1 per cent, the Greens on 12.1 per cent and the Tories, who came fifth with a dismal 9.1 per cent.
Speaking on Sky News today, Mr Blair said: ‘You can argue about the Brexit Party coming number one – but then if you stack up the votes of the pro-remain parties it’s a bigger percentage than the Brexit Party and UKIP. So what these results tell you is that this country is profoundly divided.’
Mr Blair told Sky News today: ‘If you stack up the votes of the pro-remain parties it’s a bigger percentage than the Brexit Party and UKIP’.
Mr Farage gave his own interpretation of the results as he tackled the claims that were being circulated by Remainers on social media today
The Brexit Party have topped polls in every country or region apart from London. London was won by the Liberal Democrats
Yesterday Mr Blair’s former No 10 spinner Alastair Campbell was among those who argued that adding up the votes for anti-Brexit parties could be taken as an indication that the public did not want to leave the EU.
Report blasted Tony Blair over the way he took UK into deadly Iraq War which left 179 Britons dead
Sir John Chilcot unveiled his 2.6 million-word report in 2016
The 2.6 million-word Chilcot report tore into former prime minister Tony Blair, other leading politicians and senior officials over their actions before, during and after the conflict in which 179 British service personnel died.
Sir John Chilcot’s report strongly criticised the way Mr Blair took the country to war in 2003 on the basis of ‘flawed’ intelligence with inadequate preparation at a time when Saddam Hussein did not pose an ‘imminent threat’.
It also also said the way the decision about the legal basis for the war was reached was ‘far from satisfactory’, but his report did not rule on the legality of the military action.
When the former leader gave evidence to the inquiry in 2010 the families of those killed branded him a ‘liar’ and a ‘murderer’.
But the subsequent report stopped short of saying he had deliberately not told the truth.
Mr Blair has defended the decision to oust Saddam and insisted that his efforts to form a close relationship with the US had persuaded President George W Bush to pursue a second UN Security Council resolution, which ultimately was not obtained.
The claims by Remainers prompted Mr Farage to dismiss them as ‘absolute tosh’.
He argued that the Tories must be counted in the Leave vote, with its 9.1 per cent of votes giving Brexiteers a majority.
The Brexit Party leader raged that pro-EU politicians were just ‘moaning about every single election which they lose’.
He told Good Morning Britain: ‘Add up the Brexit vote, add up the Ukip vote.. add the Conservative vote, who are still a party that says we are going to leave, and you will find that Leave beat Remain.
‘In fact what you will find is that overall the country is 52-48 in favour of leaving.’
He added: ‘We are supposed to be a democracy. We were promised this would be implemented.’
Labour’s 14.1 per cent would also take the tally over 50 per cent for an outright majority, although the party’s position has been thrown into confusion.
Senior figures including Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer are pushing for it to swing behind a second referendum although its official position is to back Brexit on its own terms.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Campbell, whose party campaigned on a Remainer ‘b*llocks to Brexit’ ticket, was also among those who tried to spin the result.
He insisted last night that there was a ‘majority to stay’ in the EU after his party beat the Tories and Labour in an election for the first time in 100 years.
Nigel Farage is expected to arrive in Brussels on Tuesday, but it is not known when he will be joined by the other 28 MEPs from his Brexit Party.
Britain’s newest MEPs are preparing to head to Brussels for their first engagements in the European Parliament.
Although the next term of the parliament does not begin until July 2, newly-elected MEPs must meet their transnational political groups first.
Many of those meetings are expected to take place this week.
Brexit Party MEPs, like former Ukip MEPs, will sit in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy political group of right-wing Eurosceptic parties.
Former No10 spin doctor Alastair Campbell was among the Remain supporters insisting Brexiteers had actually lost the elections
Mr Blair also repeated his call for Labour to back a second referendum in the wake of an election in which Mr Campbell admitted he had voted for the Lib Dems as a Remainer.
Mr Blair, speaking before his former aide revealed his expulsion, said he voted Labour ‘without any great enthusiasm’.
But asked what he would say to Mr Campbell, added: ‘I understand why you did what you did.
‘You wouldn’t be the only person I know who voted Labour all their lives who didn’t vote Labour in this election.’
Alastair Campbell is EXPELLED from Labour after voting for the Liberal Democrats
Alastair Campbell was today expelled from Labour after he admitted he had not voted for the party for first time in his life, in disgust at the party’s stance on Europe
Alastair Campbell was today expelled from Labour after he admitted he had not voted for the party for first time in his life, in disgust at the party’s stance on Europe.
Tony Blair’s former spin doctor said he had cast his votes for the Liberal Democrats at the European elections last Thursday.
Today the Labour leadership threw him out of the party over his decision, and Mr Campbell will appeal saying that Mr Blair chose not to throw Jeremy Corbyn out of the party despite spending years voting against Labour in Parliament.
He tweeted: ‘Sad and disappointed to receive email expelling me from @UKLabour – particularly on a day leadership finally seems to be moving to the right place on Brexit, not least thanks to tactical voting by party members, including MPs, councillors and peers who back a people’s vote.
‘I was not intending to publicise this at this stage, but have had calls from friends in the Party telling me it is now widely known and likely to be leaked. I have been advised by lawyers with expertise in this field I have grounds for appeal against expulsion and shall do so’.
Today Britain’s human rights watchdog has launched a formal investigation into whether the Labour Party ‘unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish’.
Mr Campbell said there was a difference in the swift way his situation had been dealt with compared to ‘the way anti-Semitism cases have been handled’.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge backed him up and said: ‘So it takes 5 days for Labour to expel @campbellclaret but almost 3 years to expel prolific anti-semite Jackie Walker. This is why the EHRC are investigating’.
What if Euro poll was a GENERAL election?
Nigel Farage might have delivered a political earthquake in the EU elections – but it would be nothing to the shock if he could replicate the performance in a Westminster election.
The Brexit Party would be sitting on a 200-plus seat majority if the votes broke down the same way in a general election, according to the Electoral Calculus website.
Such results would spell disaster for key Conservative strongholds – with constituencies held by Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Brandon Lewis among those most at risk.
The figures will come as a brutal wake-up call to the Tories, although experts have played down the likelihood of a Westminster election having the same outcome.
Even though turnout was relatively high at 37 per cent, the 2017 general election had turnout of just under 69 per cent.
While the European elections are conducted on a party list system, MPs are elected on a first-past-the-post basis. There would also probably be other policy issued at stake in a general election and the grass-roots machines of the two main parties could hold more sway.
However, theoretically Mr Farage’s 31.6 per cent support would give the Brexit Party 446 out of 650 seats in the Commons, under the formula used by Electoral Calculus. That would be a significantly bigger majority than Tony Blair enjoyed in 1997.
Labour would have 93 MPs, and the Tories would be down to zero. The SNP would have 56 seats, the Liberal Democrats 31, the Greens one, and Plaid Cymru five.
Tory leadership war over No Deal: Hunt admits he might delay Brexit AGAIN beyond October to avoid a ‘suicidal’ No Deal as more MPs enter race to succeed May after drubbing by Farage
Jeremy Hunt today admitted Brexit might have to be delayed again to avoid No Deal – as the Tory leadership battle escalated in the wake of disastrous EU election results.
The Foreign Secretary warned that trying to push through Brexit in October in the face of opposition from Parliament would only cause a general election – and the ‘annihilation’ of the Conservatives.
The dire assessment underlines the growing divide between hard and soft Brexiteers in the race to succeed Theresa May.
Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey have all made clear they want the UK to get out of the EU at all costs by Halloween – the next deadline set with Brussels.
But International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and now Mr Hunt have warned against trying to force a No Deal departure. Other contenders have yet to spell out their positions – with Home Secretary Sajid Javid again dodging questions from reporters this morning.
In a round of interviews today, Mr Hunt said the Conservatives would be committing ‘political suicide’ if they try to force a cliff-edge exit.
‘I think we have to be careful about saying we will definitely leave the EU on a fixed date, deal or no deal,’ he said.
‘The risk of that is that Parliament might try to stop a no-deal Brexit as they have done and we would be pushed into a general election.’
But Miss McVey immediately fired back, saying: ‘Political suicide actually lies in not having a clean break from the EU and not leaving on October 31.’
The spat came as a tenth Tory threw their hat into the ring for the leadership, with housing minister Kit Malthouse saying the party needs a ‘fresh face’.
Jeremy Hunt (left) has warned against No Deal Brexit in the first sign of open conflict between Tory leadership rivals. But Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured right at his London home today) has yet to spell out his position
Boris Johnson, pictured leaving his London home today, has declared that the UK should leave the EU at the end of October with or without an agreement
Michael Gove, pictured left jogging in London today, is another candidate in the Tory leadership. Rory Stewart (right) has been out on GMB talking about his credentials today
Mr Malthouse, whose seat is North West Hampshire, said: ‘I believe I’m a new face, with fresh new ideas, from a new and talented generation.’
What will the Tory leadership candidates do to deliver Brexit as Farage calls the shots?
Boris Johnson: Brexiteer who backs a deal but will leave without a deal if required. Writing in the Daily Telegraph today the ex-foreign secretary said: ‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.’
Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who wants the current deal with Brussels renegotiated but believes the UK should leave on October 31 ‘at the latest’ with or without a deal, saying: ‘I believe that I have the plan to ensure we can leave the EU by the end of October’.
Andrea Leadsom: Brexiteer who told the Guardian we must be ‘prepared to leave without a deal’ but has a ‘three-point plan for Brexit, for how we get out of the European Union’.
Rory Stewart: Remainer who says he could not work for a PM who backed a No Deal Brexit. Described it as ‘damaging, unnecessary’ and ‘a huge mistake’.
Michael Gove: Brexiteer who favours a deal. He told the BBC at the weekend that ‘we would be able to get through it’ but added: ‘It’s ultimately better for all of us if we secure a deal with the EU and leave in an orderly way’.
Matt Hancock: Remainer who backs a deal. He told Sky News that leaving the European Union without an agreement is ‘not an active policy choice that is available to the next prime minister’, in jibe at Boris Johnson.
Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer whose views on No Desal have varied. last year he said it would be ‘a mistake we would regret for generations’ before later insisting the UK would ‘would survive and prosper’ if it left unilaterally.
Esther McVey: Ruled out a futher Brexit extension. Today she said: ‘People saying we need a Brexit policy to bring people together are misreading the situation. We need to deliver on the referendum result with a clean break and then we bring people together by how we govern the country outside the EU.’
Sajid Javid: Remainer Home Secretary who accepts that Brexit has to happen. He said today: ‘First and foremost, we must deliver Brexit.’
Kit Malthouse: Housing minister who says the Tories need to turn to a ‘new generation’ of politicians. The 52-year-old tried to organise a deal between Conservative Brexit factions – which was modestly named the ‘Malthouse Compromise’.
The 52-year-old Brexiteer published polling to show that 56 per cent do not want a big beast to succeed Theresa May.
A large number agreed with the phrase: ‘I want someone new, as a feel we need a change.’
Mr Hunt has sparked a major row by warning that No Deal would be ‘political suicide’, delighting Nigel Farage and probably putting Jeremy Corbyn ‘in No 10 by Christmas’.
Mr Hunt said if he becomes Prime Minister he would instead try to renegotiate a new Brexit deal with Brussels, saying he would ‘go to them with a shared problem and there is a chance of a shared solution’.
His comments put him at odds with many Tory candidates who yesterday lined up to pledge they would finally take the country out of the EU after the Tories suffered their worst election result in 200 years.
Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed Theresa May, tweeted: ‘The message is clear. It is time for us to deliver Brexit and set out our positive plans for the country.’
Mr Javid, who entered the race yesterday, said getting the country out of the EU would be his ‘first and foremost’ priority.
But challenged by reporters outside his home whether he dodged.
‘Brexit is clearly going to be one of the big issues that has to be addressed properly and every candidate has to come forward with a credible plan,’ Mr Javid said.
‘So I will have much more to say on that in the coming days.’
The European Parliament election results saw the Tories slump to fifth place with just four MEPs.
Also writing in today’s Telegraph, Nigel Farage said the success for his Brexit Party was ‘only the start’, warning that his party was ready to stand in the general election ‘whenever it comes’.
‘It took the Labour Party 45 years to win the popular vote in a national election. The Brexit Party has done it in 45 days,’ he boasted.
Miss McVey earlier declared it was no longer possible to find a Brexit a plan ‘to bring people together’ as she argued that leaving without a deal is the only thing that ‘will wash now’.
The former Work and Pensions Secretary quit the Cabinet in November 2018 in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The Tatton MP said the Conservative Party needed a leader who ‘believes in Brexit’, and had ‘belief in the opportunities’ it could bring.
But Miss McVey said that Mrs May’s departure should be handled in a ‘dignified and graceful’ way.