John Major urges Theresa May to revoke Article 50 to avoid ‘damaging’ no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
13th January 2019

Sir John Major has called on Theresa May to revoke Article 50 in order to avoid the possibility of a "damaging" no-deal Brexit.

The former Prime Minister has previously backed a second referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU.

In a major boost for Remainers, the former Tory Prime Minister said that revoking Article 50 had become the “only sensible course” to prevent a damaging no-deal Brexit. 

Sir John is the latest Tory grandee to call for Article 50 to be halted, after ex-Cabinet minister Ken Clarke called for the process to be either delayed or revoked in order to “buy more time” and reasses public opinion.

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Writing in the Sunday Times, Sir John said: “In the midst of chaos, it is always sensible to pause and think… The only sensible course now is for the government to revoke Article 50 and suspend any decision on departure.

“This may be politically uncomfortable but any short-term political disruption pales into insignificance when compared with the potential long-term damage that could be wreaked on our economy as a whole. The choice between ‘no deal’ or ‘bad deal’ was never one that our country should accept.”

He added that MPs should guide a new “national consultation” to decide how the UK’s future relationship with the EU could look, before putting it to a public vote with the option to remain in the EU as an option.

Downing Street has repeatedly slapped down suggestions that any delay or second vote could take place, with Theresa May warning of a “catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust” if MPs fail to deliver Brexit.

With just two days until a crunch Commons vote on her deal, Mrs May has repeatedly cautioned that voting against her deal could lead to either a hard Brexit, or no Brexit at all.

But in a major blast at “shrill” Brexiteers, Sir John said it was “nonsense” to suggest that another referendum would be a betrayal of voters.

“What nonsense they speak - yet another pithy slogan from those who fear that the victory they obtained two years ago, but such dubious tactics, is slipping from their grasp. How can asking the people to make a decision based on facts ever be a betrayal of democracy? Facts that, as each month passes further disprove the fantasies that were once so shamefully peddled.”

Sir John also took aim at Jeremy Corbyn, accusing the Labour leadership of adding “little or nothing” to the European debate.

“Having expressed no clear policy position whatsoever during the negotiations process. Jeremy Corbyn now proclaims that a general election is the only way forward,” he said. “He speaks of his wish to “heal divisions” while at the same time using language that can only foster further feelings of social disquiet.”

He added: “The Labour Party has had two years to propose a credible alternative. As we move into the 11th hour, it still has nothing more to offer than political games. The people of this country deserve so much better than this.”