Alastair Campbell on Brexit

Alastair Campbell was spokesperson and advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair and has fervently opposed Brexit. He weighs in on the uphill battle facing the Prime Minister to get this deal approved.

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ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: I think she’s going to lose the vote. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I mean, I watched her statement this afternoon. I think we were almost an hour in before anybody spoke in support of her agreement. And somebody made the point that it’s one thing to be stoic and to keep going, but when you’re keeping going in the face of what is clearly overwhelming opposition — and the point is there are very good reasons for the opposition. If you’re — I mean, as you say, I’m very much on one side of the argument and I think this has reached a situation where people might be saying, “Why on earth are we doing this when we’re going to be doing so much damage to the country?” And if you’re a fervent Brexiteer, as you heard from many of them today, they are setting out a whole series of reasons why this is not in their eyes Brexit. So, she says she’s doing it because people voted for it, but the people who voted for it are saying, “This is not what we want.”

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Yes, but some of those are hardliners in your own party, they will never be satisfied with anything except for, you know, jumping off a cliff.

CAMPBELL: No. I think — but if you take something like the rule taker not a rule maker, that’s a big point. If you take something like the European Union having veto on the backstop, the —

AMANPOUR: It’s all so complex.

CAMPBELL: I know it’s complicated but these are really big points, they’re legitimate complaints. And then, you’re also left with people saying, “We’re paying 39 billion pounds and we’re not even able to do these trade deals that flow from leaving.” So, I think there are very legitimate reasons for saying this is a very, very bad deal wherever you come from.

AMANPOUR: But they will take back —

CAMPBELL: It deserves to be voted down.

AMANPOUR: — control, she says, take back control of our money by putting an end to the vast annual payments in the E.U.

CAMPBELL: Yes. I know she says that, but we’re going to paying in well into the next decade. And what’s more, if this process has to be extended, we ending up paying more. I mean, I have to say, that’s what Nicola Sturgeon put it rather well yesterday. I mean —

AMANPOUR: She’s the leader of the Scottish National Party.

CAMPBELL: Yes. Theresa May’s letter to the nation yesterday, I mean, it has a fairly Trumpian approach to fact, I have to say. I think there’s a lot of — kind of, you know, she’s — we got into this mess because of all the lies that we’re told during the referendum campaign. And I think it’s time for the country to be told the truth. There is no easy Brexit and she’s trying to pretend that this deal — and Rory Stewart, I mean, you know, (INAUDIBLE) he’s a minister, he has to defend her. But yet, she hit the nail on the head in saying that she’s trying to sort of please them a bit and please them a bit and she’s ended up pleasing nobody.

AMANPOUR: Right. But what about his point, which is probably true, that if one had a second and maybe even a third referendum, this goes on and on because of the internecine warfare in this political environment, in both parties, is unlikely to be tamed, that that is simply going to rip this country apart more than even an unsatisfactory sort of compromise over Brexit?

CAMPBELL: But I think the unsatisfactory compromise risk is ripping the country apart. How can you have a situation — we talk about this being about democracy. I mean, I think I haven’t seen any — the latest polling on this, but the last time I saw her, her deal, this was before the deal was actually done, but the outlines of the deal, the checker’s proposal, it was actually polling lower in the U.K. than Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia. Now, both of those things are not very popular at the moment at the U.K.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Justice Minister Rory Stewart and former British Labour Party Communications Dir. Alastair Campbell about Brexit; and Tena Clark about racial and political fault lines in the Deep South. Walter Isaacson speaks with Revolution CEO Steve Case, best known for co-founding AOL, about how to spread tech talent.