Sir John Major Joins Legal Action Over Proroguing Parliament

Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, has confirmed that he is joining in with legal action to question the advice behind the decision to prorogue Parliament.

Major said in a statement:

“I promised that, if the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in order to prevent Members from opposing his Brexit plans, I would seek judicial review of his action. In view of the imminence of the prorogation – and to avoid duplication of effort, and taking up the Court’s time through repetition – I intend to seek the Court’s permission to intervene in the claim already initiated by Gina Miller, rather than to commence separate proceedings.”

Clive Coleman, the BBC’s legal correspondent, said:

“You could scarcely have more heavyweight support in this legal challenge to try and stop the suspension of Parliament. We are in unprecedented times and this is an unprecedented intervention.”

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party said on Twitter:

“Proroguing Parliament is an unprecedented affront to democracy. The rights and freedoms of our citizens have been vandalised. I will be joining the Judicial Review launched in the High Court by Gina Miller and supported by John Major.”

Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in a statement:

“The attempt to shut down Parliament is an anti-democratic, authoritarian power grab by Boris Johnson, who wants to silence the people and their representatives.

The Liberal Democrats are doing all we can, both in the courts and in Parliament, to prevent both the shutdown of our democracy and a no-deal Brexit. That’s why I’ll be joining the High Court judicial review launched by Gina Miller.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, denied that the timing was meant to limit debate on Brexit, saying:

“We are coming up to the last period before we leave on 31 October and in that period, Parliament is going to have a lot to time – they’ve spent three years debating Brexit by the way without actually getting it over the line. They are going to have a lot of time for further consideration.”

Sir John Major Calls for Parliament to have Free Vote on the Brexit Deal

Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, has called for MPs to be offered a free vote on the final Brexit deal. The former Conservative leader said that he feared that the country would be economically worse off and that the poorest regions may be hit the worst.

Major said:

“Our own Government has assessed our post-Brexit position upon three separate criteria: that we stay in the Single Market; or reach a trade deal with Europe; or fail to do so. Each option shows us to be worse off: and disastrously so with no trade deal at all. And the poorest regions will be hurt the most.

If, as negotiations proceed, this analysis appears to be correct, that cannot be brushed aside. I know of no precedent for any Government enacting a policy that will make both our country and our people poorer. Once that is apparent, the Government must change course”.

Referring to the current economic situation he added:

“The UK has been at the very top of European growth. We are now the laggard at the bottom. We have become the slowest of the world’s big economies, even before we surrender the familiar advantages of the Single Market”.

Talking about a solution to the division, Major added:

“It is already agreed that Parliament must pass legislation giving effect to the deal. A “meaningful vote” has been promised. This must be a decisive vote, in which Parliament can accept or reject the final outcome; or send the negotiators back to seek improvements; or order a referendum. That is what Parliamentary sovereignty means.

But, to minimise divisions in our country – and between and within the political parties – I believe the Government should take a brave and bold decision. They should invite Parliament to accept or reject the final outcome on a free vote”.

Sir John Major Calls for a Brave New Conservative Approach

Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, has called on the Conservative Party to back Theresa May or risk Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. Major, was served as Conservative Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, wrote in the Sunday Mail:

“I have watched the Conservative Party manoeuvrings of recent weeks with increasing dismay and have been saddened to see the news dominated by those who have been driven by their own personal agenda.

Their behaviour does nothing to repair the battered reputation of politics. It is not what our country wants or needs – nor does it serve it well. Politics is not a game. Government even less so. Their conduct has undermined their own party, their own Prime Minister, and their own Government. It is profoundly unbecoming and it must stop”.

He added:

I am among those who remember the far-Left influence on Labour governments in the 1960s and 1970s: the over-mighty unions; the strikes; the winter of discontent; the sky-high taxes. Thus, for me, the concept of a Labour government led by two convinced neo-Marxists is the return of a nightmare.

And if Labour were elected, no voter could say that they were unaware of the likely priorities of a Jeremy Corbyn government, for Mr Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have already spelled out the disaster they would inflict.

Mr McDonnell has been admirably frank. Born out of his distaste for the free market, his economic plans would be pure poison to any hope of prosperity. As for Mr Corbyn, his entire career has showcased his convictions: his admiration for revolutionary causes and unsavoury leaders are part of his political DNA. He holds to his views with honesty and sincerity, but they do not represent middle-of-the-road voters – nor any but a small handful of Britons.

I do not wish to see any sort of Labour government – although a tilt to the Left or Right is always in the nature of politics – but I recoil from the prospect of a Corbyn-led government”.

Major called for a review of policies, including the controversial universal credit:

“We must be ambitious. Deep-rooted problems need more than a piecemeal, timid, toe-in-the-water approach that might one day offer improvements. We need brave solutions. Our plans must engage government and private sector alike. We need to involve faster and better public investment. We need to widen and accelerate educational reform. And we must demonstrate a clear priority for the interests of the ‘have-nots’.

I hope such a programme will include a review of universal credit, which, although theoretically impeccable, is operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving. It is time for the Conservative Party to show its heart again, which is all too often concealed by its financial prudence. We are not living in normal times and must challenge innate Conservative caution”.

He also wrote for the need of more housing and improvements in education:

“We must persuade the Treasury that – while the cost of long-term borrowing is low – there is an opportunity to vastly accelerate public development of infrastructure and, in particular, housing. Useful initiatives have been announced but we need to go further. If this increases public debt we should – and could – accept that (as I believe the markets will) provided annual revenue expenditure is kept under control.

An essential ingredient is for the frustrating delays in planning law to be speeded up. To house our nation better, we must unshackle the private sector. We must ensure that the windfall gains from planning approval are shared fairly between the vendor and the community.

Many education reforms are under way; that is excellent. But we must move faster and further to skill the next generation. All our talents will be needed for us to thrive in a competitive world”.

Sir John Major Questions Government’s Brexit Strategy

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”.

The full text of the speech is available.

Sir John Major Attacks “Deceit” of Vote Leave

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Sir John Major, the former Conservative Prime Minister, has criticised the “deceit” of Vote Leave in an interview with Andrew Marr.

When asked if he was accusing people of lying Major said:

“I’m talking of the Leave campaign; I’m not necessarily talking of individuals. I’ll tell you exactly. I think throughout the whole of my political life people have regarded me as being guilty of understatement. I am angry at the way the British people are being misled. This is much more important than a general election. This is going to affect people, their livelihoods, their future for a very long time to come. If they are given honest, straightforward facts and they decide to leave, then that is the decision the British people take. But if they decide to leave on the basis of inaccurate information, inaccurate information known to be inaccurate, then I regard that as deceitful. Now, I may be wrong, but that is how I see their campaign. This is so important for once I’m not prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to other people, I’m going to say exactly what I think, and I think this is a deceitful campaign. In terms of what they’re saying about immigration, a really depressing and awful campaign. They are misleading people to an extraordinary extent”.

Asked about Vote Leave’s claim about Turkey joining the EU, Major added:

“The Turks have been negotiating for the best part of 30 years a whole series of different things that have to be negotiated. They’ve negotiated one of about 30. Even if they were able to reach agreement with the European Union, any one nation in the European Union could veto their joining. The French have already said they would have a referendum on that issue. The Germans almost certainly will follow suit. Turkey will not be in the European Union for a very, very long time, if ever, for a whole series of practical reasons. And the Leave campaign know that. That’s the point, they know that”.

Boris Johnson, speaking on the same programme, was asked by Andrew Marr if figures such as Major were trying to undermine his own leadership chances and if he was only supporting Brexit for his own political reasons. Johnson replied:

“No, nonsense. Absolutely nonsense and I think that the –
obviously there is going to be a temptation by one side or other
and particularly the Remain side to try to turn it into a personality
driven conversation. My view about the EU has changed but that
is because the EU has changed out of all recognition and it is now
totally different from what we signed up to in 1972 and it is
turning into a federal state, we’ll be safer taking back control and
voting Leave on June 23rd”.

Sir John Major, former Prime Minister, sets out Arguments for Voting to Remain in EU

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Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, has spoken of his reasons for wanting the UK to remain in the EU. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he said:

“The EU helped free Spain, Portugal and Greece from fascism. It helped rebuild the Balkans after war. It offered a new future to countries once imprisoned in the Soviet empire. Across Europe old enemies, who for centuries fought against each other, now live and work beside each other.

It has increased our prosperity, once the sick man of Europe we are now on course to be the biggest economy in Europe. The UK sells five times as much to Europe as to all the other 52 nations of the Commonwealth added together. We face no tariffs and no hidden barriers to our exports”.

When asked about sovereignty by John Humphrys he replied:

“Let us deal with that point of sovereignty. This county is sovereign. We can vote to repeal the Accession Act of the European Union at any time. That is sovereignty in its purest form. If you want undiluted sovereignty in the modern age, when everybody is inter-connected, then go to North Korea because that’s where you’ll get it. It is certainly true that we share sovereignty, we take some sovereignty from other people and they take some of ours, we haven’t surrendered it because at the end of the day, the House of Commons – our representatives, can say we won’t have this, we will leave the European Union”.

He added:

“I’ll tell you what my choice is, my choice is the well-being of this generation and the next. To share sovereignty given that we have all sorts of protections, now some of them legislative, others agreed with the European Union, that prevent us being dragged into the melee of a federal Europe”.

Sir John Major Warns of Danger of Becoming Little Britain by Leaving the EU

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Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, has warned of the dangers of the UK leaving the European Union. Writing in the Daily Telegraph the former Conservative leader said:

“When we joined the EU we were the “sick man” of Europe: today, as a result of our domestic reforms and membership of the European Single Market, we have the best performing economy in Europe”.

Speaking of previous treaties Major added:

“Beyond the positive advantages of membership, we have protection from many aspects of the EU that we dislike: we are not in the Eurozone – because I kept us out of it over 20 years ago; we are not part of Schengen (and thus have control of our borders); and we have opted out of “ever closer union”. We can veto any Treaty that enhances EU powers. We are the only nation within the EU which has managed to secure these concessions”.

Referring to potential trading advantages he noted:

“The ‘leave’ campaign blandly assumes that once they have undermined – if not wrecked – the power of the EU by leaving it, they can simply re-negotiate all the advantages of membership with pliant Europeans eager for our trade. This is self-deception to the point of delusion. Their argument is that the EU needs the UK market more than we need theirs, on the basis that – overall – the EU exports more to the UK than we export to them. This is, at best, disingenuous. More bluntly, it is fantasy. UK exports to Europe are nearly 45 per cent of our total exports. On average – across the EU – the other 27 Member States send only 7% of their total exports to us. In the game of who needs who the most, the answer is clear. Our European partners will not be the demandeur in any negotiations on the Single Market – we will be”.

Teresa Gorman, the former Conservative MP, has died at the age of 83

Teresa Gorman, the former Conservative MP for Billericay from 1987 until 2001, has died at the age of 83.

Gorman first stood for Parliament for the seat of Streatham in the October 1974 General Election. She was unsuccessful but became a Conservative councillor for Westminster City Council from 1982 until 1986. She was then selected for the constituency of Billericay which she won in 1987 with a majority of 17,986.

Gorman was suspended from the Conservative Party in 1994 for failing to support the Government. In his auto-biography John Major wrote of Teresa Gorman:

“Warm, volatile, sharp-witted and attention seeking, Teresa was unusual among the Euro-sceptics for not taking herself entirely seriously. She would have liked to have been a minister, and was open about it – but she was too much of a maverick”.

Major added:

“The trouble was that, like many sceptics, she did not realise that the public was less concerned about Europe than she was, and that the constant impression of division damaged us hugely”.

Gorman retained the constituency until she retired in 2001 although she won by just 1,356 votes in 1997 after her share of the vote by 17.9%. In recent years she defected to UKIP and supported them at the 2015 General Election.

Sir John Major Warns of the Danger of a Labour-SNP Coalition

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Sir John Major, the Conservative Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, is to warn today of the dangers of an SNP-Labour coalition in a speech in the West Midlands.

He is expected to say:

“Labour would be in hock to a party that – slowly but surely – will push them ever further to the left. And who would pay the price for this? We all would. We would all pay for the SNP’s ransom in our daily lives – through higher taxes, fewer jobs, and more and more debt.”

Warning that the SNP would have a pro-nationalist agenda Major is also expected to say:

“That is no way to run a country. And nor is it remotely fair to England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.