FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair warned today that it would be “a monumental error of statesmanship” for Britain to turn its back on Europe.
And he said that David Cameron’s policy of renegotiating the UK’s position in the European Union would pave the way for withdrawal.
Leaving the EU would be “politically debilitating, economically damaging and hugely destructive of Britain’s true long term interests”, said Mr Blair.
Speaking to a business audience at foreign affairs thinktank Chatham House in London, Mr Blair said: “Europe is a destiny we will never embrace easily. But it is an absolutely essential part of our nation remaining a world power politically and economically.
“It would be a monumental error of statesmanship to turn our back on it and fall away from a crucial position of power and influence in the 21st century.”
Mr Cameron has indicated that he wants to renegotiate the UK’s relations with the EU, with the prospect of a referendum on the outcome following the general election. But he is resisting pressure from within his own party for an in/out referendum.
Amid speculation that Ed Miliband may be considering committing Labour to an in/out poll, Mr Blair said it was not “sensible” to be talking about a referendum at this point.