Politicians should be ready to "stand up" to members of the public who brand them elitist because they argue for a second EU referendum, Tony Blair has said.

The former prime minister compared voters who say MPs should stop arguing about Brexit and "just get on with it" to football fans berating their team's manager for his tactics.

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Mr Blair - a vocal advocate of the UK remaining in the EU - also called on politicians to stand firmly against those threatening violence on the streets if Brexit is not delivered as they wish.

And he called on businesses to speak out clearly on the damage they expect Brexit to do to the economy.

Speaking at the launch of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer in London's Mayfair, Mr Blair said that declining trust in mainstream politics and media had led angry voters to gravitate towards simplistic answers from populists on the right and left.

He said there was a need for a "muscular centre-ground" to provide evidence-based answers to issues such as immigration and the loss of jobs to robots on which populists thrive.

But he shied away from saying whether this would require a new centre party, saying only: "My hope is that my party comes back to a centre-left position."

Mr Blair recalled an encounter with a member of the public in which he tried to explain details of the working of the EU's single market and customs union which made him oppose Brexit, only to receive the reply: "You're just trying to say to me that you know far more about this than I do."

"I was prime minister for 10 years," said Mr Blair. "I want to say to people, I follow Newcastle United, if a game is on the TV I will watch it, but I know that Rafa Benitez has forgotten more about football in one day than I will ever know.

"It's not because he is smarter than me - though he probably is smarter than me - it's because that's what he spends his life doing.

"You send people to Parliament and that's their day job. It's not your day job. So if they study the detail and say this is a bad idea, they are not squabbling children, they are doing what you sent them to Parliament to do.

"If you explain that to people, they regard this as the elite fighting back. It's absurd. We have got to have politicians who stand up and say 'No, that is not a sensible way of looking at this'."

Asked whether he was concerned about civil unrest if Brexit does not go ahead, Mr Blair said: "If people are going to threaten violence you take a pretty strong line on that.

"This 'gilets jaunes' politics - let them stand for election and then if they win we will take them seriously.

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"Why should you take them seriously because they put a brick through a shop window? We need politicians who are strong enough to stand up and say this."

Mr Blair warned that wrangling over Brexit will not subside if the UK leaves the EU on March 29, as different sides will immediately take up cudgels for a battle lasting years over their preferred future relationship with Europe.

It was "incredibly dangerous for the country" that Theresa May's Cabinet remained split on this issue, he said.

And he predicted that advocates of a hard Brexit were likely to take hold of the direction of the Conservative Party after the UK leaves.

Businesses would have a role in "educating" the public on what a hard Brexit on World Trade Organisation rules or a Norway-style soft Brexit would mean for their prosperity, he said.

He warned them that, for business, remaining silent "is an option, but it's not a sensible one, because otherwise there is no point afterwards complaining we have got a bad deal".