Jenny Chapman, a shadow Brexit minister, questioned the “interesting” timing of the speech and said it “won’t help” [Image: Martin Godwin for the Guardian].

He won’t have expected this.

Everything about his speech today suggests that Tony Blair thought he would have the easy ride he has enjoyed from the bulk of Labour MPs for the past 20 years and more. He completely miscalculated the situation.

Labour doesn’t have time for his frivolous campaign against Brexit.

The party is deeply involved in campaigning to retain seats that have been vacated – possibly vexatiously – by MPs who could happily fit the description “Blairite”. And Brexit features heavily in the doorstep discussions.

It is a time for healing divisions within the party’s support base – not for ripping them open still further.

Blair knows this; he is, after all, the leader who led the party to an unprecedented three successive general election victories.

So his intervention can only be viewed as an attempt to undermine the current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Knowing this, the Parliamentary Labour Party has little choice but to denounce him. Constituency members will be taking the names of those who don’t.

It is a serious mis-step for Blair, and could be a turning point for Labour – away from the Blair-inspired policies that have caused the party so much harm since 2010 and towards Corbyn’s future.

Tony Blair faces a backlash from Labour MPs for fuelling the party’s divisions over Brexit, as he launched a campaign to keep the UK in the EU ahead of two crucial byelections in leave-voting seats.

In a major intervention on Friday, the former prime minister accused a weakened Labour party of allowing Brexit to happen, and called for a cross-party political movement to persuade people that the costs of leaving will be painful.

The speech was viewed as highly unhelpful by Labour figures campaigning in a tight battle against Ukip and the Tories to retain seats in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland, where the party is trying to emphasise its support for triggering article 50 and respecting the result of the referendum. About 70% of referendum voters in Stoke, and about 60% of the electorate in Copeland wanted to leave the EU on 23 June.

Jenny Chapman, a shadow Brexit minister… questioned the “interesting” timing of the speech and said it “won’t help”. While stressing her respect for Blair, she said: “It would be a mistake [to argue to stay in the EU] and I don’t think that is where the majority of the country is whether they voted leave or remain … Especially outside of London I don’t think that’s going to cut much ice.”

Source: Labour MPs challenge Tony Blair over Brexit comments | Politics | The Guardian

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