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by Kevin Schofield and Tom Freeman
17 October 2018
Former Conservative PM John Major says party's Brexiteers 'will never be forgotten nor forgiven'

John Major - PA

Former Conservative PM John Major says party's Brexiteers 'will never be forgotten nor forgiven'

Former Tory Prime Minister John Major has said those who urged the country to vote Leave in the 2016 referendum "will never be forgotten nor forgiven".

Major used a speech in London last night to warn those driving Brexit "will have much to answer for" if people end up "weaker and poorer".

Sir John - whose time in Dowining Street was dogged by battles with his eurosceptic backbenchers - spoke out ahead of a crunch EU summit as fears of a no-deal Brexit continue to grow.

Delivering a lecture at the Foreign Office, he said: "I have made no false promises about Brexit that I must pretend can still be honoured, even though, in my heart, I know they cannot.

"I am free to say absolutely and precisely what I believe about Brexit. And it is this: I understand the motives of those who voted to leave the European Union: it can – as I well know – be very frustrating.

"Nonetheless, after weighing its frustrations and opportunities, there is no doubt in my own mind that our decision is a colossal misjudgement that will diminish both the UK and the EU.

"It will damage our national and personal wealth, and may seriously hamper our future security. It may even, over time, break up our United Kingdom. It will most definitely limit the prospects of our young.

"And – once this becomes clear – I believe those who promised what will never be delivered will have much to answer for. They persuaded a deceived population to vote to be weaker and poorer.

"That will never be forgotten – nor forgiven."

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "John Major is right. The snake oil salesmen of Boris and Gove, the duo who sold the country a pup, will never be forgiven. People trusted them and they betrayed that trust and Boris just stormed out when it got difficult. He is now off in a huff to ruffle his hair in a corner.

"John Major is correct, the public are being taken a ride for a few people's ideological dream. This is the biggest disaster to befall Britain since Suez."

Labour MEP Catherine Stihler said: "Generations to come will never forgive those responsible for this Brexit chaos.

"Sir John Major has rightly pointed out the threat to jobs and our economy, and the fact that Brexit will take away opportunities from young people in Scotland and across the UK. It is deeply upsetting that some politicians are prepared to sacrifice the next generation like this.

"It would also be unforgiveable to sacrifice the union between the four nations of the UK, but that is what the Tories risk doing by pursuing a hard Brexit."

Major also took aim at those within the Conservative party, like former foeriegn secretary Boris Johnson, who are jostling for power.

"Such self-interest is politics at its least attractive. It does not deliver sound government. It destabilises Government," he said.

"As a general rule, those whose focus is on self-advancement are rarely the most suitable to be entrusted with power."

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, a leading Eurosceptic, said: "As someone who watched the Maastricht debacle in bewilderment in my early 20s but who has now caught up, I consider our predicament today very substantially John Major's burden.

"Had he honestly explained what it meant and asked permission for it from the voters, I cannot conceive our country would be in this position.

"God bless him but he has done too much harm already. Enough."

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