Sir John Major attacks ‘ultra Brexiteers’ over ‘low-grade personal abuse’

Posted On: 
19th March 2017

Sir John Major has accused “ultra Brexiteers” in the Government of “low-grade personal abuse” and seeking to silence anyone who holds an opposing view to them in the EU debate.

Sir John Major called for an end to “fake facts and bogus promises” over Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

The former prime minister said hard line eurosceptics are looking for a “complete break from Europe” by crashing out of the bloc without a trade agreement.

He said that these Brexiteers must “stop shouting down anyone with an opposing view”, as well as launching “vitriolic and personal attacks” against judges, civil servants, foreign leaders and others.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Sir John said it is “profoundly undemocratic” and “totally un-British” for Brexit-backing politicians to be looking to silence those on the opposing side of the EU debate.

“In doing so they demean both themselves and their cause," he wrote. "These 'Ultras' are terrified that their triumph in taking us out of Europe will be snatched away.

"But if that is their fear, why do they not defend their position with logic and passion, with thoughtful, cogent argument, instead of low-grade personal abuse that has been their standard response so far?"

“If the rancour merely came from rabble elements, or extreme minorities, it could be ignored. But when it comes from politicians, including those from within the governing party, it is time to confront it.

“Other parliamentary Brexiteers, from all parties, are more reasoned, more civil, and more democratic. They should disown their rancorous colleagues. There are testing times to come. What we need is a serious discussion.”

Sir John called for an end to “fake facts and bogus promises” and for politicians to follow Theresa May’s lead in entering the negotiations with “skill, persuasion and diplomacy”.

It comes less than a month after the former Tory leader accused the Government of presenting an "unreal and over-optimistic" picture of post-Brexit Britain.

Building on his argument this morning, Sir John said ministers should explain the consequences of leaving the EU on WTO rules.

“The WTO option is not a panacea – it is a disaster-in-waiting for British exports and the British economy,” he said.

He added: “The British people deserve the truth. So, yet again, I ask for the fiction to be ditched, and the facts to be faced,” he wrote today.

“There are many millions of people across the UK who have been left dismayed and despairing over the glib rhetoric that has prevailed over serious argument.

“They need to be reassured the decision made in last year’s referendum was the right one – for them, their families and for future generations.

“I expect the Prime Minister to go into the negotiations with skill, persuasion and diplomacy. Others should follow her example.

“Only then will we start to heal the wounds that have been inflicted by this divisive debate which, thus far, has been one of the most damaging in the history of British politics.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this week said that the economy would be “perfectly okay” if Britain quits the European Union without a fresh trade deal.