I’ve never been a Blair fan boy nor one of his haters. He left enough mess behind in NI to know not everything he’s done was perfect, but I do think it’s worth listening to his interview on the Today programme yesterday.
In it he outlines a course of action that may not have seemed practical a few days ago (although it’s not a million miles from my own suggestion on Nolan earlier in the week).
My scenario was predicated on a change of government. But Blair is pitching the idea of stopping the clock to May (in the first place) as a way through rather than just a less costly way out.
As things stand in law, without an alternative the U.K. is on a ticking clock. But through two bills from Hillary Benn and Dominic Grieve Parliament now has significant powers to reshape that outcome.
Rightly or wrongly, the backstop has become toxic in Westminster from the very left to the very right. Even if Labour MPs like Jess Phillips vote for May’s numbers in her own party are on the floor.
But Blair’s senior point is that the big countries of the EU themselves are straining under many of the issues that pushed the UK to vote for an exit. Renegotiating terms, not just for the UK but for wider EU reform is the key Blair difference.
We’ll have to see if there is anyone actually listening. There’s going to be a few more bends in the road before this is over…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty