Former Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Sir John Major has tonight (Thursday) launched a devastating critique of his successor Boris Johnson and warned that “a general election would solve nothing” in the Brexit crisis.
Sir John’s speech has been described by Lord Heseltine as “the most devastating critique of an existing Conservative Prime Minister by one of their predecessors I have ever read.” (See below.)
Speaking to the Centre for European Reform, Sir John says:
At present there is much talk of a General Election. In the present atmosphere it would be likely to become the most unsavoury election of modern times.
All Parties profess to believe an election is necessary to clear the air. I disagree.
Until Brexit is resolved, a general election would solve nothing. It would merely fuel the current feeling of disillusionment and disunity. Far from healing the nation, it would scratch away at open wounds.
It may also be pointless, as the most likely outcome is another fragmented Parliament – even more bitterly divided than it is now.
So why is the Government so keen to put our country through that?
There may be a political calculation behind their thinking:
(i) They believe the Labour Party is unelectable under the present leadership, and are keen to ensure no new Leader is put in place before the next election;
(ii) Ministers have read the unredacted version of “Yellowhammer”. They know how serious the problems will be for the people of this country after a “no deal” Brexit, and wish to have the election out of the way before the reality of the mess that lies ahead becomes clear.
Let me put it another way:
If the Government was truly confident in the aftermath of their Brexit policy, they would wait for next Spring; take credit for the success of Brexit; rejoice – even gloat – that all fears about it were unfounded; and propose a few popular “One Nation” policies to restore the fortunes of the Conservative Party.
Responding, Lord (Michael) Heseltine, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“John Major's speech to the Centre for European Reform tonight is the most devastating critique of an existing Conservative Prime Minister by one of their predecessors I have ever read.
“His call for the House of Commons to reunite against a faction of the party to which he and I have given our political lives is the clearest possible signpost of the danger to this country and to the Conservative Party if present strategy continues.”