Mr Blair's deathbed repentance on migration

A container ship sits at port in Felixstowe U.K. last month as it is being unloaded

The future of Prime Minister Theresa May is also a major factor in the vote, and may arguably be at stake, with her leadership under increasing pressure since an unexpectedly poor showing in June's general election.

He told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "I think the only circumstances in which Brexit works, and this is the fantasy of the real Brexiteers - they are in one sense right, that if you leave Europe Britain should become a light-touch, light-regulation ... it should become marketed as "not Europe".

Tony Blair has demanded tougher new United Kingdom immigration controls in a bid to stay in the European Union.

Mr Blair, however, pleaded with Remain-backing Tory ministers like Sir Michael and other MPs to steer the United Kingdom away from a "false path" with a choice between an old fashioned right-wing Brexit or "unreconstructed" leftism.

The government has said free movement will end with the UK's European Union membership, and a forthcoming immigration bill will set out its plans in detail.

"The risk is the British people won't vote for that, they are not going to vote for the huge economic and social restructuring - to the changes to the health service and other things that that would require".

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"There can be no change to Brexit unless we confront the underlying causes of it", Blair said, conceding that the referendum vote showed a widespread feeling that unchecked immigration was forcing wages down, straining public services, and - particularly when it involves conservative Muslims - raising questions of cultural integration.

Today, to accompany a paper published by Mr Blair's Institute for Global Change, the former prime minister comes close to a mea culpa for that 2004 decision. For those who did not have one would be banned from opening a bank account, renting a home or claiming benefits.

In a Sunday Times article Mr Blair wrote he still opposed Brexit and times were different when he was Premier.

In addition, it would make it harder for immigrants to qualify for the National Health Service and allow universities to charge European Union nationals higher tuition rates. While insisting times and sentiment were different then, he acknowledges legitimate public concern about immigration.

Downing Street has chosen not to comment on the report's findings or Blair's intervention so far.

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