Wednesday 4 May 2016 9:17 am

EU referendum: Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair says the UK will do the "sensible" thing and vote to Remain

The United Kingdom will do the "sensible thing" and vote to remain in the European Union, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

The former Labour leader said that most Britons would think it is foolish to take the risk and vote for Brexit.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Blair said: "When you look at the polls, they’re pretty evenly matched. But my best instinct about this is that the country will do the sensible thing and stay in the EU.


"If we were to leave it would put a level of economic insecurity into the ordinary family household that I think most people would think is a foolish risk to take. But I have to say, I look at politics around the world these days and it’s in an unpredictable state."

Blair's intervention comes months before the UK turns out to vote on its relationship with the EU, and echoes the message from the Remain camp that leaving the EU would be a risk, or as Prime Minister David Cameron put it "a leap into the dark".

Read more: EU referendum – Polls at odds on outcome of June's vote

Added to that are reports from the Treasury, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, all of which stress the economic risks of leaving the EU.

However, the pro-Leave camp has attempted to discredit these reports and published their own titled Economists for Brexit.

Of President Barack Obama's intervention, Blair added that "rational" people in the UK would welcome his words, despite an unwelcome response from Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Ukip leader Nigel Farage, among others.

"If you’re rational, the view of the president of the most powerful country in the world and our biggest ally should matter. When someone like President Obama comes, I think it’s important we know his view. It does count," Blair said.


Obama, during his visit to the UK, also said it could take the UK up to a decade to negotiate a trade deal with the US if it votes to leave the EU, a claim that also came under fire by Leave campaigners.

Read more: Khan accepts anti-Semitism row could hurt his chances of getting elected

Blair, Labour's most successful leader, having won three consecutive elections for the party, also defended his government's decision to open the UK's borders to Eastern Europe, leading to a surge in migrants that has led many to want to leave the EU.

"Personally, I do not feel that the immigration from Eastern Europe was a problem for Britain,” Blair said. “I think those people contribute far more in taxes than they ever take in benefits. They’re hard-working people, they’re good members of our community."

And speaking on allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party after comments by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone that linked Hitler to Zionism, Blair was unambiguous: "I know I speak for the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members when I say there’s absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in our party. We have always been strong and powerful campaigners against that type of prejudice and that type of poison."

The Labour party has come under scrutiny after the comments led to wider concerns about anti-Semitism in the party.

However, those in the party have stringently denied the accusations, with Hackney MP Dianne Abbott stating the claims are a way to smear Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

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