The former Conservative prime minister called on the UK Government to put the country’s interests above the “will of the people” and weaken its stance in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Speaking before representatives of creative industries in London this Wednesday, former Prime Minister John Major unloaded on the supporters of Brexit, urging Theresa May to offer a free vote to Conservative MPs on the final deal with the EU.
Major proclaimed that he is “neither a Europhile nor a Eurosceptic,” pointing to numerous clashes that his Conservative Government (1990-1997) had with Brussels.
“As Prime Minister, I said “No” to federal integration, “No” to the Euro Currency, and “No” to Schengen — which introduced free movement of people within the European Union but without proper control of external borders,” he said.
At the same time, the former Conservative leader argued that he is “a realist,” who is committed to ensuring the prosperity and stability of the UK, while claiming that Brexit, particularly the exit from the European single market, will “inflict economic self-harm on the British people”.
Speaking about the fact that Brexit was a result of the nation-wide referendum, where the British electorate expressed its preference for leaving the EU, Major said that it is up to the politicians to ensure the “well-being of the people”.
“Of course, the ‘will of the people’ can’t be ignored, but Parliament has a duty also to consider the “wellbeing of the people,” he proclaimed.
“No-one voted for higher prices and poorer public services, but that is what they may get.”
Controversially, Major also expressed skepticism whether Brexit was in fact the decision of the British voters, pointing out that the “will of the people… was supported by only 37 per cent of the electorate.”
“Sixty-three per cent voted either in favor of membership — or did not vote at all”, he highlighted.
The Leave Campaign was supported by some 17,410,742 British voters during the 2016 Brexit Referendum, as opposite to the Remainers, who numbered over a million less.
The former prime minister even further qualified the importance of the UK electorate’s views on Brexit, claiming that “the referendum was advisory only” and “no-one can truly know what ‘the will of the people’ may be [by the end of the two-year transition period after Britain withdraws from the EU].”
Latest YouGov poll shows 52 percent of the British public think that Theresa May’s Government should proceed with the Brexit, while only 32 percent expressed their desire to reverse the process.
Nevertheless, Major claimed that opposing Brexit is the “patriotic” choice.
“We are all urged to be “patriotic” and get behind Brexit. But it is precisely because I am patriotic that I oppose it”, the former PM said.
“I want my Country to be influential, not isolated; committed, not cut-off; a leading participant, not a bystander.”
The Conservative politician concluded that although Britain “will get through [Brexit]” and “life as we know it won’t come to an end”, leaving the EU will make the UK “weaker and less prosperous”
As a result, Major urged Theresa May to cave in to Brussel’s pressure on sensitive issues, such as the border with the Republic of Ireland, by eliminating “the red lines”, which restrict the UK’s choices for Brexit and “box the Government into a corner”.