TONY Blair has claimed there are better ways of curbing immigration levels than 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 Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, told Mr Blair to "get over it" and accept that Brexit was going happen.

Noting how it was the Blair Government in 2004, which had an open door immigration policy to people from eastern Europe, Sir Michael told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "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 Scot added: "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."

Mr Blair, however, said Britain 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.

"The only circumstances in which Brexit works - and this is the fantasy of the real Brexiteers; they are in one sense right - is 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…are not going to vote for the huge economic and social restructuring.”

He stressed that the real risk was Brexit followed by an unreconstructed Leftist programme from Labour, which would cause a "very serious situation" for the country.

"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.”

The former party leader said with Brexit on one side and anti-business, Leftist programmes on the other “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.

Mr Blair said there was a lot of anger across the country but urged political leaders to “give people an answer".

He added: "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 going to distract us from those solutions and going to cause real economic and political damage."

But Ken Clarke, the Europhile former Tory Chancellor, suggested Mr Blair was misguided, telling Sky News: "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."

Len McCluskey, leader of the union Unite, dismissed Mr Blair as “yesterday’s man” and argued that he "misses the point" because the only way to stop the abuse of migrant workers by "greedy bosses", which brought about the undercutting of wages and conditions, was to regulate properly the jobs market after Brexit.