Former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers: UK having 'political nervous breakdown'

Posted On: 
6th July 2019

Former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers has said the UK is going through a "political nervous breakdown" as he took a swipe at the Tory leadership contenders and Jeremy Corbyn.

Sir John Sawers stood down as MI6 boss in 2014.
Credit: 
PA Images

In outspoken comments, he said none of those in the running to be Prime Minister "have the standing that we have become used to in our top leadership".

Sir John, who was Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service from 2009 until 2014, also said David Cameron had been "unwise" to call the EU referendum, which he said had left the UK's international standing "severely diminished".

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He made his comments as a new opinion poll of Tory Party members suggested Boris Johnson is well on course to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister.

Speaking to Radio Four's Today programme, Sir John said: "We are going through a political nervous breakdown here in the UK.

"We have potential Prime Ministers being elected by the Conservative Party now, (and) in the shape of the leader of the opposition, who do not have the standing that we have become used to in our top leadership.

"Whether people can develop that when they become Prime Minister, we will have to wait and see, in terms of the candidates for the Conservative leadership."

But Iain Duncan Smith, chair of Mr Johnson's election campaign, hit back at Sir John.

He said: "Actually I think he might be going through a political nervous breakdown.

"The reality is that the expression of democracy may well frighten him slightly."