Former prime minister Tony Blair claimed a demonstration could not determine the decision of politicians as he compared the Iraq War protest and Saturday’s People’s Vote march. Tony Blair has been critical of Brexit and has repeatedly called for the UK to have another say on leaving the European Union. The former Labour Party leader was asked about comparisons between the protest over the Iraq invasion, which saw an estimated one million people stand up against sending troops to Iraq in 2003, and the People’s Vote march, and how much importance should be attached to a marches of that size.
Mr Blair told BBC’s The Week in Westminster: “Of course, you should attach importance to it. In the end, it’s like the petition online. It’s three million signatures, you would be crazy if you didn’t pay a lot of attention to that.
“But, can it in of itself determine the decision? No.”
He added: “There are other factors at play and in the end, there are other opportunities to debate the rights and wrongs of Iraq, but the Parliamentary majority was actually very large. So it wasn’t finely balanced in Parliament.
“Of course, if you are, as I did at the time. If you are Prime Minister you should take account of that, but in the end, I think it is more of a message in this case to MPs.
“It’s a message to MPs that if you just think all the anger and dismay is on the Brexit side of the argument, there is also a constituency in the country that is strongly anti-Brexit.
“I think that three-million signatures is an indication of that, and those are people who I think will vote.”
Mr Blair continued: “If you are an MP and you are forced to choose to vote between a hard Brexit and a soft Brexit, in the end you are going to realise there are real downsides with either option and therefore it may suit you as an MP to share the responsibility with the people and say ‘look this is my view but you take the final decision’.
“At the moment MPs are not there, but once they start to realise what the problems are with either the two actual Brexit options, for the first time they are forced to confront the reality, this is what Brexit means…then I think you are in a different situation.
“Then, if they are listening to public opinion, they may think, it is a wiser course and a safer course for me to make a judgement to then allow the people a final say.”
Tens of thousands of people are expected to march in London on Saturday to demand another say on Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Placards carried among the crowd of demonstrators call on the Government to “Revoke Article 50”. Others read: “We’re marching to demand a People’s vote” and: “We love EU”.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable has tweeted his support for a second referendum after launching the Put it to the People march in central London.
Alongside two photos of him with demonstrators, he wrote: “Great to kick off the #PeoplesVoteMarch just now. There is a huge turnout of people here from all walks of life, of all ages and from all over the country. We are a Remain country now with 60% wanting to stop the Brexit mess. #ExitfromBrexit #PutitToThePeople”.
An online petition has also been signed by over four million people calling for the Government to revoke Article 50.
It comes following a turbulent week for the Prime Minister who was offered a Brexit extension by the European Union until May 22, if her withdrawal agreement passes in the House of Commons after MPs voted for a delay to the divorce process.
If the Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal agreement is rejected by MPs, the extension will be cut short until April 12, when the UK will then have to set out its next steps, which will include leaving the EU with no deal or extending the process further.
The Prime Minister was expected to bring her deal back to the Commons next week, but on Friday evening, Mrs May wrote a letter to MPs suggesting she may not bring her deal back if there is not enough support for it across the House.
Mrs May wrote: “If it appears that there is not sufficient support to bring the deal back next week, or the House rejects it again, we can ask for another extension before 12 April – but that will involve holding European Parliament elections.
“If it appears that there is sufficient support and the Speaker permits it, we can bring the deal back next week and if it is approved we can leave on 22 May.”