Tony Blair wants to ‘get his hands dirty and return to POLITICS in Brexit battle’ –

Tony Blair wants to ‘get his hands dirty and return to POLITICS in Brexit battle’ –

On the 20th anniversary of his New Labour win, the former Prime Minister has insisted money is not the motivating factor behind his return and predicted Britons would eventually want to rejoin the EU after leaving.

The former Labour leader said: “This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics. You need to get your hands dirty and I will… I am going to be taking an active part in trying to shape the policy debate.

“We don’t know yet what the final deal on Brexit will be. We are advocating a very simple British common sense position, which is to say, let’s see what the Tories come up with first.

“This is not about defying the will of the people. It is saying the will of the people may change when they see the final deal.

“My prediction is it may take another generation but at some point we will want to be back in the EU – there is a direct link between the number of people and the size of an economy.”

The former Prime Minister was nonchalant about his predicted £60million wealth and claimed he has given away most of it.

He added: “I have the capacity to earn money. I have made money which has given me a nice house in London and a nice house in the country and I am very lucky and the equity in those two properties is the bulk of my wealth.

“But I have given away more than I have earned. It is not what motivates me.”

The 63-year-old has had talks with the Liberal Democrats about setting up a new force to fight for the centre ground and was coy when asked whether he would establish a new political party.

It has previously been revealed that he spoke to Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and his predecessor Nick Clegg about the prospect of creating a pro-European group that would appeal both to Lib Dems and disaffected Labour voters.

Speaking to the Mirror, Mr Blair added: “I don’t want to be in the situation where we pass through this moment of history and I hadn’t said anything because that would mean I didn’t care about this country. I do.

“The single market put us in the Champions League of trading agreements. A free trade agreement is like League One. We are relegating ourselves.”

He ruled out a return as an MP as he does not want to stop his “seven days a week” charity, which requires constant travelling, but remained vague on exactly what how he will be getting involved.

He continued: “It is not frontline politics in the sense I am not standing for Parliament. I am not sure I can turn something into a political movement but I think there is a body of ideas out there people would support.

“We live in a world defined by change. Cultural stresses, people are worried about immigration, communities, economic stresses… people are worried if they will have a job.

“I am going to be taking an active part in trying to shape the policy debate and that means getting out and reconnecting.”

Former UK ambassador to Ireland is applying for Irish citizenship because of Brexit – The Independent

Former UK ambassador to Ireland is applying for Irish citizenship because of Brexit – The Independent

The UK’s former ambassador to Ireland is applying for Irish citizenship because of the prospect of Brexit.

Sir Ivor Roberts, who was the UK’s representative in Dublin between 1999 and 2003, said he begun the formal process of getting an Irish passport so he could retain his citizenship of the European Union.

The ex-diplomat’s father was born in Northern Ireland and he is therefore entitled to both UK and Irish citizenship.

Sir Ivor told the Irish Times that Brexit was the main factor in his decision as he has a house in Italy and “I don’t want to find myself queuing to get through Rome airport every time I go there”.

After his time in Ireland, he also served as the UK’s ambassador to Italy for three years.

He said he was encouraged to apply for citizenship by his three children, who have also applied for citizenship after the referendum vote in June last year. 

Sir Ivor, who will soon retire from his role as president of Trinity College Oxford,  has maintained personal and business connections with Ireland since he left. 

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Ireland though not everyone in Iveagh House [Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs] may agree with that,”he said.

“I obviously worked for the British government for 40 years and I’m not giving up my British citizenship … My wife Elizabeth is Australian and I may take that up too,” he added.

The number of people from Great Britain and Northern Ireland applying for Irish passports has rocketed in the past year with a 69 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same time last year. 

The Irish foreign ministry received 51,079 applications from the UK compared with 30,303 during the same period last year and is said to be hiring extra staff to cope with the workload. 

In the days following the referendum the Post Office ran out of forms for Irish citizenship in Belfast after seeing queues around the block.

Anyone with a parent or grandparent born in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland have an automatic right to Irish citizen. 

Wales could disappear into England under hard Brexit, Welsh nationalist leader warns – The Independent

Wales could disappear into England under hard Brexit, Welsh nationalist leader warns – The Independent

Wales is in danger of disappearing as a distinct country if “extreme Brexit” leads to the break-up of the UK, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has warned.

Ms Wood said Wales faced “grave risks” during the upcoming Brexit negotiations, particularly if Scotland became independent.

The Welsh nationalist said that if the Conservatives won a landslide at the General Election it would mean the UK was likely to opt for a hard Brexit.

This would mean withdrawal from the single market and imposition of export tariffs which would put Welsh jobs at risk, she argued, according to The Sunday Times.

Speaking a campaign event at a factory which makes parts for Airbus in Broughton, north Wales, she said the aircraft manufacturer was “not going to hang about too long” if they faced steep tariffs on goods made in the UK and exported to the EU.

But what she most feared was Wales being swallowed up by the much larger England if Scotland voted for independence. 

“If Scotland becomes an independent country then the UK will no longer exist. The danger to us is the merging of England and Wales, almost like a disappearance of the country really,” Ms Wood said.

“That’s what’s at stake potentially and we have to do whatever we can to make sure that Wales remains a viable nation in the long term.”

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have had their own regional governments since 1999.

A majority of people in Wales voted for Brexit along with England in the referendum last year, while most in Northern Ireland and Scotland wanted to remain in the EU.

But Ms Wood said this was more to do with people wanting “change” rather than to leave.

“The current set-up is not working for people”, she said.

Plaid is hoping to exploit Labour’s current lacklustre performance in the polls

The party currently holds three seats in Westminster and its key target is Ceredigion in Mid Wales, which is held by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams.

A YouGov poll published last week said Labour was in danger of losing 10 seats to the Conservatives and being pushed into second place in Wales for the first time since 1922.

Tim Farron says he is a ‘bit of a Eurosceptic’ in bid to win over Brexit voters in Liberal Democrat former south … –

Tim Farron says he is a ‘bit of a Eurosceptic’ in bid to win over Brexit voters in Liberal Democrat former south … –

Tim Farron has described himself as a “bit of a Eurosceptic” in a bid to win pro-Brexit voters in the former Liberal Democrat heartlands in the South West of England.

The admission will have raised eyebrows because the LibDems are fighting the election on an avowedly pro-EU ticket and have pledged to hold a second European Union referendum.

Mr Farron told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1  that he had “resigned from the Liberal Democrat frontbench about ten years ago because I am a bit of a Eurosceptic.”

This was evidence that he was “somebody who challenges people in power”, he said.

He added: “But I’m somebody who believes that Britain is better off in the European Union and what the South West is famous for is wanting to be able to be self-governing, to be independent, to be different from those in Westminster who tell them what to do.

“And the worst thing for the West Country is to be a blanket of blue where the Tories just take you for granted.

“And that’s the thing I think people around the country are beginning to realise. That a Conservative majority is now not in question, but a Conservative landslide means they will take you for granted wherever you live.”

Mr Farron also reached out again to former Labour leader Tony Blair who has pledged to persuade people to reverse the Brexit decision.

He admitted that he had “met with Tony Blair at his request”, and “admired” the former Prime Minister who won three general elections.