With the sting of Brexit still lingering in chambers of British politics, former Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested immigration reform over leaving the European Union.
Calling on officials to “put country above party,” Blair said that the issue of immigration “cannot be ignored.”
The former prime minister said he was backing a report that, according to Politico EU, identifies sweeping reform opportunities for restricting immigration, “both by domestic policy change and by agreeing change within Europe to the freedom of movement principle.”
The migration report, which was put together by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, proposes tightening a multitude of rules. Among the recommendations are curtailing access to healthcare and child welfare payments for migrants who don’t declare their arrival in the United Kingdom.
Would-be immigrants from the European Union who didn’t register their presence or intent in the British Isles would be prevented from renting homes and apartments or opening bank accounts.
Politico notes the plan, if adopted, could give universities and businesses the right to prefer hiring or admitting U.K. nationals at businesses and schools over their counterparts from EU nations.
Blair, who served as prime minister under the Labour Party, said the stance taken by the ruling Tories has the potential to shatter the economy.
The former statesman hoped that presenting viable policy changes which would satisfy conservatives while allowing the country to stay within the European Union might work, going so far as to say it is “precisely the territory that the Labour Party should camp upon.”
He said the Party should strive to “keep freedom of movement but reform it; support the single market as a matter of principle together with its social protections; control overall immigration in ways that meet public anxiety but are true to our values; and then explain why Brexit is a distraction from the Tory failures, not a solution to them.”
The current government in the United Kingdom, which largely supported Brexit efforts, is planning to “exit the single market and negotiate a new deal with all the benefits,” according to Blair and Politico.
“I understand this as a matter of politics. But I fear that they are trying to negotiate the unnegotiable, placate the implacable,” wrote Blair.