TONY Blair has claimed there are better ways of curbing immigration levels than by using the "sledgehammer of Brexit," suggesting the only way to make a success of leaving the EU would be to turn Britain into a Singapore-style low-tax, low-regulation country.

But the former Prime Minister warned that voters would not back such a huge restructuring of the economy and society and so Jeremy Corbyn's Labour was likely to win any post-Brexit election, which, he argued, would create a "serious problem" for the country.

Mr Blair, who claimed he had a "renewed sense of mission," spoke after his policy institute released a paper calling for tough new immigration rules, which would allow Britain to exercise more control over who comes into the country, without leaving the EU.

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He claimed this would fulfil the will of the people expressed in last year's Brexit vote while allowing Britain to stay in the EU.

But Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told him to "get over it" and accept that Brexit was going happen.

Mr Blair, however, said the country faced a "life-changing" moment and he pleaded with Remain-backing Tory ministers like Sir Michael and other MPs to steer the UK away from a "false path" with a choice between an old fashioned right-wing Brexit or "unreconstructed" Leftism.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "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[country] should become marketed as 'not Europe'.

"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."

He said: “The risk is we have a Brexit followed by an unreconstructed leftist programme from Labour and if you combine those two together we will be in a very serious situation as a country and, therefore, this is why this is not just about Brexit, it’s about how does centre ground of politics recover its traction and show there is change we can make to our country that really deals with its problems and doesn’t go down the false path of old-fashioned programmes of Left or Right.”

Said Brexit on one side and “anti-business, old statist Leftist programmes on the other they may ride the anger but they don’t provide the answer”.

On controlling European immigration, the former PM said there were ways to do it that "don’t mean you have to do Brexit” like new restrictions such as implementing an emergency brake on the number of people coming in.

"Yes there's a lot of anger but give people an answer," he declared. "There are answers to the anger, there are answers on tuition fees, on social injustice, on communities left behind. What should we be dealing with as a country today?

"The technological revolution, infrastructure, making sure that we are geared up to the enormous changes that are coming down the pipe at us.

"Brexit on the one side, anti-business old-fashioned Leftist programmes on the other, they may ride the anger but they don't provide the answer."

Mr Blair commended the way Mr Corbyn had fought the General Election but insisted that "doesn't make that programme right".

The former premier admitted the open borders he presided over were no longer appropriate and put his name to a report calling for tighter domestic controls and the negotiation of modified free movement rules with the EU.

He has been blamed in many quarters for the rise in public concern about immigration which culminated in the Brexit vote, after failing to impose transitional controls on migrants from new EU member states in 2004.

But he argued that "the times were different" as he released a Tony Blair Institute report calling for tough new measures, including forcing EU immigrants to register on arrival and restricting benefits or access to the NHS for certain groups such as non-workers.

Urging MPs to put forward a "different or better way" to the public, Mr Blair said: "I'm trying to say this - in the end Brexit is a distraction not a solution to the problems this country faces.

"If MPs really believe that then their obligation is to set out solutions that deal with the actual problems communities and people have and not do Brexit which is actually going to distract us from those solutions and going to cause real economic and political damage."

But Sir Michael dismissed Mr Blair's comments, telling Marr: "It's a bit late now this epiphany, I'm not sure where he's been; well, we know where he's been, he's being travelling the world.

"The country wants proper controls over immigration, we saw that in election after election and we saw that in the referendum last year.

"The country has taken its decision; we're leaving the European Union now and that means freedom of movement has to end whether we like it or not."

The Scot added: "The country has decided we're leaving the European Union, we've got to get on with that, Tony Blair has got to get over it, and we've got to get a smooth and successful exit from the union."

Meanwhile, Ken Clarke, the Europhile former Tory Chancellor, said it was "hopeless" to expect the UK to stay in the EU.

He told Sky News's Sunday with Niall Paterson: "Tony still thinks we can stay in the EU. The mood in the country is it's hopeless to expect that. What we now need to address is the practical consequences of what is our new relationship."

Mr Clarke said a transition period of "two, three, four years" will be needed.

Len McCluskey, leader of the union Unite, claimed Mr Blair "misses the point" because the only way to stop abuse of migrant workers by "greedy bosses", which brings about undercutting of wages and conditions, was to regulate properly the jobs market after Brexit.

Describing the ex-PM as "yesterday's man", Mr McCluskey told Pienaar's Politics on BBC Radio Five Live: "He's as out of touch now as he was in 2004.

"He doesn't address the idea because what Tony Blair and the New Labour government were a part of, and certainly what the Conservatives have continued, is creating this race to the bottom culture within our society rather than a rate for the job society."

Nick Boles, the former Conservative minister, quoted Oscar Wilde while criticising Mr Blair, tweeting: "'Yet each man kills the thing he loves'. Blair is tortured by knowledge that his immigration policies finished off our membership of the EU."