Brexit: Michael Heseltine supports Tony Blair on border u-turn

Michael Heseltine supported Tony Blair's comments on migration

Migrants in Calais are seen waiting at reception centres around France. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said an 'open border' policy is no longer appropriate for the UK

Monday, September 11, 2017

Former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine says Tony Blair is "quite right" to suggest that we must address the issue of open borders and work out a new, sustainable solution.

In a new paper which was covered by several newspapers over the weekend, Blair has written that the government must  "confront the underlying causes" of Brexit and we could "do ourselves serious economic damage" if we don't address the border issue.

"I've been talking about this for some time and I think, once the German elections are out of way, it is possible that the concern felt about open frontiers will begin to be addressed.

"Tony Blair is quite right to recognise there is a window that might well open once the German elections are out of the way."

However, Heseltine - who played a key role in Margaret Thatcher's government before Blair came to power - said there is a real danger that Britain will be left on the outside when Europe resolves this issue.

'Farage's campaign had racial undertones'

The Tory grandee also said Brexit was based on a major misconception - that the majority of immigrants arrive in Britain from Europe, rather than the rest of the world. He told James that the government, led by Theresa May, had complete control over non-EU migration, and their mistakes have created the huge unrest which led to last year's Leave vote.

That vote, according to Heseltine, was fundamentally driven by racism, and he blamed one man in particular for spearheading that sentiment.

"Nigel Farage's campaign had racial undertones," Heseltine said, before pointing out that the former Ukip leader has since played a key role in mobilising support for Donald Trump in America and for anti-immigrant movements in Germany.

Turning to the Brexit negotiations, Heseltine said it was completely wrong to criticise the EU for its conduct of the talks thus far, as "the Europeans are only doing what they said they would do." 

Although many have suggested the British economy is bouncing back from Brexit, Heseltine suggested we are in fact already seeing the economic drawbacks, in the form of rising inflation and credit card debt, and the idea that we are going to secure brilliant trade deals is "poppycock."

There was even time to discuss the leadership credentials of Boris Johnson, Heseltine expressed cynicism, saying it's not enough to "make people laugh."

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