Tony Blair‘s approach to European integration as prime minister helped sow the seeds of Brexit by failing to make the case for political union in the UK, Jean-Claude Juncker has said.
The outgoing European Commission president said that “my friend” Mr Blair was among politicians who “wanted nothing to do with the EU” as a political project while they were in office.
Asked whether the British were ever at home in the European Union before they voted to leave, Mr Juncker said the departure “should not come as a surprise”.
“That is indeed the fundamental question. I have been involved in European politics since December 1982 and have seen time and again that the British have operated on the premise: We are only in the EU for economic reasons,” he told the German magazine Der Spiegel in a farewell interview.
“When it came to the political union, to moving closer together, they wanted nothing to do with the EU. That was even the case with my friend Tony Blair. If you stick to that narrative for over 40 years, it should not come as a surprise when people remember it during the referendum.”
Mr Juncker is set to be replaced as Commission president by Ursula von der Leyen, who is hoping to take office at the start of December.
The former prime minister Mr Blair is set to meet with the incoming president on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters in Brussels that the meeting had come at a request from the former prime minister’s office, and would not confirm whether Brexit or a second referendum would be discussed.
The outgoing Commission president also reiterated his attack on Boris Johnson, who he claimed had lied during the referendum campaign.
“So many lies were told, including by current prime minister, Boris Johnson, that there needed to be a voice to counter them,” Mr Juncker said. The Luxembourgish politician has said several times since the referendum that he wishes he had got involved in the campaign to rebut untruths emanating from the Leave side.
Mr Blair however signed up to the EU’s social chapter in 1997 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000.
The prime minister also pledged a referendum on the planned European constitution, though this never occurred as the constitution was rejected by other countries.
Since Brexit the former prime minister has been strongly on the Remain side of the divide. In October he said a second referendum could be held on the same day as a general election. Ahead of the European elections he urged people to vote tactically in favour of Remain.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.