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Iain Duncan Smith criticises Tony Blair after former PM urges people to ‘rise up’ against Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:42 17 February 2017

Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith

PA Wire/PA Images

The former Conservative leader described the comments as “arrogant and undemocratic” in a TV interview this morning.

Mr Blair said that it is his “mission” to persuade supporters of the Remain campaign to “rise up” ahead of Britain leaving the European Union.

At a keynote speech in the City of London, he urged the “millions” of people worried about leaving to fight to stop it.

He said: “I want to be explicit.

“Yes, the British people voted to leave Europe.

“And I agree the will of the people should prevail. I accept right now there is no widespread appetite to re-think.

“But the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit.

“As these terms become clear, it is their right to change their mind.”

In a BBC interview this morning, Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith, a fervent Leave supporter, dismissed Mr Blair’s comments.

He said: “I was firstly quite surprised to hear Tony Blair entering the fray.

He seems to have been rather busy giving advice to dictators around the world, so maybe his view of democracy has been tainted by that.

We had a democratic vote last year, the British people made a decision and now the job of the government is to get the best arrangements with the European Union.

“We’re not leaving Europe, we’re leaving the European Union and the Prime Minister wants to get good trading arrangements, to stay friends, to co-operate on defence and intelligence, but just not be members of the EU.

“I think that will benefit us eventually.”

At the speech this morning, Mr Blair said the vote was won on “imperfect knowledge”.

He said: “Our challenge is to expose relentlessly what this cost is, to show how the decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge, to calculate in ‘easy to understand’ ways how proceeding will cause real damage to our country; and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge.

“I don’t know if we can succeed. But I do know we will suffer a rancorous verdict from future generations if we do not try.”

But Mr Duncan Smith accused the former Prime Minister of relying on sound bites.

He said: “Let me just tell you, sound bites don’t matter here. The key thing is the British people were asked a question, they made a decision and now the government has to sort that out and make sure we have a good relationship with the European Union.”


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