Tony Blair still gives the UK a 50/50 chance of calling off Brexit

Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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Even as Theresa May negotiated a “legally binding” change to the Brexit deal, former prime minister Tony Blair predicted there was an even chance her plan would fail.

May returned from negotiations with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday (March 11) with a deal in hand for lawmakers.

The new deal makes explicit commitments about the “Irish backstop,” a way to keep the border open between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Pro-Brexit lawmakers are afraid the deal will keep the UK tied to the EU indefinitely. May’s deal makes the arrangement “temporary” and commits to an alternative arrangement by December 2020.

Blair, who led Britain from 1997 to 2007, opposes Brexit. He argued the deal was as tenuous as ever. “I still think it’s possible it doesn’t happen,” he told Quartz in San Francisco following May’s announcement. “They’re all trying to shoehorn people into this agreement…but I think it’s about 50/50 whether they succeed or not. I will do everything I can until the last moment to stop it.”

Parliament is renewing debate on the deal today. Juncker warned “there will be no third chance. It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all,” he said.

This is all happening just weeks away from the March 29 deadline to leave the EU. Outcomes range from parliamentary approval to a no-deal Brexit to a snap election. In January, an earlier Brexit deal from May’s government went down in the British parliament as lawmakers handed her a defeat of historic proportions.