BLAIR: UK could stay in EU without freedom of movement

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Francois Lenoir/Reuters

LONDON – The European Union may be preparing to allow the UK to both reject free movement and stay in the single market, Tony Blair said.

In an interview with the BBC’s Today programme, Blair said the EU was examining plans that would “make it much more comfortable for Britain” to stay in the EU.

The former Prime Minister said he would not “disclose conversations I’ve had within Europe,” but was not speaking “on a whim.”

The EU has previously said that Britain cannot enjoy the benefits of free trade with the other 27 member states without accepting the principles of free movement, which make it easier for EU citizens to work and travel within the trading bloc.

In a separate article, Blair also said that other EU countries have similar concerns: “The French and Germans share some of the British worries, notably around immigration, and would compromise on freedom of movement.”

“Inevitably, therefore, Europe will comprise an inner and outer circle. Reform is now on Europe’s agenda. The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement,” Blair wrote.