Sir John Major, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, has said that he would himself start a judicial review if Boris Johnson attempted to prorogue Parliament to avoid the Commons blocking a no deal Brexit. His comments come after last night’s television debate when Johnson refused to rule that option out.
“I think that the idea of proroguing Parliament is utterly and totally unacceptable from any British Parliamentarian or democrat. Let’s strip away the jargon of proroguing and contemplate on what this actually means. What it means, and Prime Minister Johnson presumably, because he cannot persuade Parliament to agree with his policy will close down Parliament so that he can bypass it until his policy comes into operation.”
“I think that this is completely and utterly against Parliamentary tradition and against the way in which our Government should work. If that were to happen I think that there would be a queue of people who would seek judicial review. The Queen’s decision cannot be challenged in law, but the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen can, I believe, be challenged in law and I, for one, would be prepared to go and seek judicial review to prevent Parliament being bypassed.
I served in Parliament for over twenty years, I’m very proud to have done so, I have huge admiration for our Parliamentary traditions and I am not going to stand by and see them disregarded in this fashion. It is utterly and completely the wrong way to proceed.”
Major said, when asked by Sackur who he was voting for:
“A ballot is private, but it’s fairly evident from my views that I cannot vote for someone who was part of the Brexit campaign which misled the country. So I shall offer my vote to Jeremy Hunt, and I don’t think anyone will be in any doubt about that.”
When asked about whether the majority of Tories want Brexit, Major said:
“I find it very difficult for any Prime Minister wishing to lead the whole of our country can entirely ignore the views of 48% of people who passionately do not want to see Brexit at all because they believe it is bad for their country. They cannot be ignored, it’s not only wrong constitutionally, I think politically it’s crazy. Those 48% of people are going to remember that they were completely ignored and they will remember that at the next election and for a very long time to come.”
When asked if MPs should back Brexit, Major added:
“Parliamentarians are in an extraordinarily difficult position that we have not seen before. I would guess that 70% to 80% of Parliament believe that Brexit is a disaster, that we should not be leaving Europe and that it’s damaging to our country and damaging to our future. But they feel hamstrung in carrying their conscience and their belief through to action because of the result of the referendum.”
Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, has called on Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to become a “mediator” in an attempt to break the deadlock on Brexit.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Major said in an interview with Nick Robinson that one way to make progress was “for the Prime Minister to lift some of her red lines”, or alternatively to ask Parliament to “form a consensus”.
“The Prime Minister argued valiantly for her deal, she fought for it, she got a deal, but the House of Commons killed it and killed it comprehensively. So her deal is dead and I don’t honestly think that tinkering with it is going to make very much difference, if any difference at all. So the Prime Minister still needs a deal. If she can’t deliver one that Parliament accepts, then she will need to become a facilitator, a mediator, to find out what Parliament will accept. I think there is a way she can do that, I personally would hope that she puts down a series of motions so that Members of Parliament can indicate their preference. We can then see whether there is a consensus in Parliament that is possible, that Parliament would accept. Ideally for that, all party leaders would permit a free vote, so we can get an honest representation of Parliament. That is in the Prime Minister’s interests for this reason, it’s the only way to get an absolutely honest answer from Members of Parliament and if it is a free vote, it removes the danger of resignations from Government or the opposition front bench because they disagree with their leader’s policy”.
Suella Braverman, the Conservative MP for Fareham, rejected the former Prime Minister’s call for Parliament to reach agreement, saying that Major was part of the “elite” and she added “thank you Sir John, but no thanks”.
Teddy Taylor, the former Conservative MP for Glasgow Cathcart, Southend East and Rochford & Southend East, has died at the age of 80. Taylor had been the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland before the 1979 General Election and he later became one of the Maastricht rebels in the 1990s.
Taylor was born on 18 April 1937 and he was educated at Glasgow High School and Glasgow University and he started a career as a journalist after graduating. He became the Conservative MP for Glasgow Cathcart in 1964 , making his maiden speech shortly afterwards, and he was the Baby of the House from his election until 1965.
Taylor held his seat until the 1979 General Election when he was the only Conservative MP to lose his seat as Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. He was returned to Parliament the following year at a by-election for the Southend East constituency with a majority of just 430.
Along with a number of other Euro-sceptics, Taylor rebelled against John Major’s Conservative Government in the 1980s and was known as one of the Maastricht rebels.
He retired from the House of Commons in 2005 and died on 21 September 2017 following an illness which has lasted several months. Taylor leaves a widow, two sons and a daughter.
Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, has used a speech at Chatham House to question the Government’s Brexit strategy. He called for consideration of the process to ensure that the UK benefited as much as possible from Brexit, and called on the Government to “heal the divisions and unite”.
Major was critical of the confrontational approach taken by some Government Ministers and said:
“In my own experience, the most successful results are obtained when talks are conducted with goodwill: it is much easier to reach agreement with a friend than a quarrelsome neighbour. But, behind the diplomatic civilities, the atmosphere is already sour. A little more charm, and a lot less cheap rhetoric, would do much to protect the UK’s interests”.
The former Prime Minister, who saw rebellion from within the Conservative Party in the 1990s, added about the trade issue:
“A new trade deal with Europe will be hugely complex. No-one should envy the Secretary of State and his negotiators. Some industries – cars and aerospace for example – hope for special, perhaps industry-to-industry, deals for their exports to Europe. The difficulties of this are legion: the chances of success are slim – not least since the German Chancellor is likely to rule out sectoral deals. Even if she does not, WTO rules expect agreements to cover all trade, not a few handpicked sectors”.
“There is only one thing that just might shake Europe’s leaders out of their complacency: the shock of a vote by the British people to leave. The very facts that make it certain that the UK could thrive as an independent country – we are the fifth largest economy in the world, the most important military power in Europe and the country with by far the most stable and deep-rooted institutions – make us very valuable members of the EU. We would be sorely missed”.
Howard, who was also the Home Secretary during the latter part of John Major’s administration added that he didn’t blame David Cameron.
“It is not his fault that those efforts met with failure. It is the fault of those EU leaders so mesmerised by their outdated ambition to create a country called Europe that they cannot contemplate any loosening of the ties which bind member states”.