LONDON – There's a chance Britain won't leave the European Union, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday, arguing that stopping Brexit is "necessary" to avoid severe economic damage.
In an article published by Blair's Institute for Global Change, he wrote that EU leaders might be willing to "reform and meet us half way" to keep the U.K. in the bloc. He said that might include compromise on freedom of movement — a key EU principle that conflicts with Britain's goal of placing limits on immigration.
Blair said conditions in Britain and Europe had changed since the U.K.s EU membership referendum in June 2016. Europe has some new leaders, including France's centrist President Emmanuel Macron. And in Britain, the Conservative government suffered a setback in last month's election.
Blair also told Sky News that "every day is bringing us fresh evidence" of Brexit's harm to Britain, with economic growth slowing and the value of the pound down sharply since the June 2016 EU membership referendum.
"This is causing us real damage. That's beyond doubt," he said. "I think it's absolutely necessary that it doesn't happen."
Blair left office in 2007, and his interventions in British politics are always contentious. He won three successive elections for the Labour Party, but many have not forgiven him for joining the U.S.-led Iraq War.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who in March triggered the two-year timetable for leaving the EU, has insisted that the process cannot be reversed.