Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on the government to introduce immigration curbs to avoid a hard Brexit.

Blair argued in a Sunday Times article that the UK could stay in the European Union if the government introduces an "immigration policy that reasserts control."

"The idea is to garner support for an immigration policy that allows us to reduce immigration sensibly and fairly, and stops immigration undercutting wages and services," Blair wrote in a newspaper article on Sunday (10 September).

He suggested that reforming freedom of movement in the EU would address some of Brexit voters' "grievances" without the full effect of a hard Brexit which would cut the UK off from the single market and "could deliver a Corbyn government."

Blair added that a hard Brexit would severely damage the UK's global status, comparing the decision to a "top-six Premiership side deciding to play exclusively in the Championship."

"Other than President Donald Trump, I can't think of a single leader of any of our major allies or partners who thinks this decision is anything other than self-harming," he wrote.

Critics have accused Blair of having a belated "epiphany" on the issue of immigration and pointed to his decision as Labour Party leader not to apply transitional controls to eastern European migrants in 2004.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told Andrew Marr: "It's a bit late now, this epiphany."

Fallon said previous elections had shown that the public wanted "proper controls" over immigration.

"I think it's a pity he didn't think of that when all these new countries were admitted to the European Union on his watch," he said.

Under Blair's leadership, the Labour Party did not restrict access to migrants from 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004, unlike France and Germany which barred migrants from joining their labour market until 2011.

"The situation back then was different," Blair argued on the Marr show.

"You've got to listen to what people are saying and react to it," he said.

Under existing rules, EU migrants can spend six months finding a job before they are removed from the UK.

But Blair's new report by the Institute for Global Change suggests that EU nationals should have a work offer when they arrive in the UK.

Those without permission to stay would be prevented from opening a bank account, renting a home or claiming benefits, the report said.