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Former Tory PM John Major to join election rally aimed at blocking Boris Johnson majority

Former Tory PM John Major to join election rally aimed at blocking Boris Johnson majority
3 min read

A former Tory Prime Minister is set to join an election rally aimed at preventing Boris Johnson from winning a Commons majority.

Sir John Major is expected to be joined by Tony Blair, his Labour successor in Number 10, at the event in London on Friday.

The high-profile pair, who both support a second EU referendum, will urge people to vote tactically for the pro-Remain candidate most likely to defeat Conservatives in their seat.

Michael Heseltine, who was Sir John's deputy when he was Prime Minister, will also speak at the event, which has been organised by the 'Vote for a Final Say' and 'For our Future’s Sake' campaign groups.

Others expected to speak at the rally include former Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke - who was kicked out of the party for opposing Mr Johnson's Brexit plans - and Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's top spin doctor when he was Prime Minister.

Sir John has been a long-standing critic of Mr Johnson's Brexit plans, and earlier this year joined the legal attempt to prevent the PM shutting down Parliament for five weeks as MPs fought to stop a no-deal departure.

Speaking in September, he said: "Most Conservatives are not a Brexit Party tribute band, nor have we abandoned our core values to find compromise, seek allies, and strive for unity, rather than division and disarray.

"We do not believe we have the right to ignore the voices of millions of others, whose opinions differ from our own. 

"And we abhor the language of division and hate – and words such as 'saboteur', 'traitor', 'enemy', 'surrender', 'betrayal' have no place in our party, our politics, nor in our society.  It is emphatically not who we are as a people.  And must never be seen as so.

"I hope that the Conservative Parliamentary Party will regain its sense of balance, and rein in the faction of a faction that now prevails in Cabinet."

Speaking ahead of the rally, David Gauke - who is standing as an independent in the South West Hertfordshire seat he has held since 2005 - said: "I worked to find a compromise that sought to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit but the hardliners in my former party wouldn’t accept anything other than the hardest of hard Brexit.

"Now the choices are very stark. The country is polarised. It is either a hard Brexit or Remain. Neither option has a mandate from the 2016 referendum. I believe we need to put those options back to the British people in a confirmatory referendum. And in those circumstances, it is overwhelmingly in the national interest to remain."

Alastair Campbell, who was kicked out of the Labour Party for voting Lib Dem at the European elections, said: "This election is not about Jeremy Corbyn or Jo Swinson – neither can win a majority. It has come down to one simple question: Do you want to give Boris Johnson and the reckless right-wing gang that surrounds him, total power to do whatever they want?

"It is not too late to stop him and secure a democratic final say on Brexit. But a lot more people are going to have to focus on who can win their seat, hold their noses, and put aside party loyalty or even views about the respective leaders if we are to have a real chance." 

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