Ex-PM Major condemns ‘deceitful’ Brexit campaign

June 5, 2016 2:03 pm
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Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major says the British people are being "misled" by the Vote Leave campaign/AFP
Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major says the British people are being “misled” by the Vote Leave campaign/AFP

, LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 5 – Former British prime minister John Major attacked fellow Conservatives on Sunday for running a “deceitful” campaign for a Brexit, raising the heat in an increasingly tight race for the June 23 referendum.

Major condemned the Vote Leave campaign, led by former Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson, of making “fundamentally dishonest” claims about the economic benefits of leaving the European Union.

Overview
  • Major condemned the Vote Leave campaign, led by former Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson, of making "fundamentally dishonest" claims about the economic benefits of leaving the European Union.
  • He said their focus on ending the migration of hundreds of thousands of EU citizens to Britain under the bloc's freedom of movement rules was "verging on the squalid".
  • Major's angry intervention escalates the war of words within Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party over the vote, which could see Britain become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc.

He said their focus on ending the migration of hundreds of thousands of EU citizens to Britain under the bloc’s freedom of movement rules was “verging on the squalid”.

Major’s angry intervention escalates the war of words within Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party over the vote, which could see Britain become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc.

“This is a deceitful campaign,” Major told BBC television’s Andrew Marr programme, adding: “I am angry about the way the British people are being misled.”

Major, who led Britain between 1990 and 1997, also criticised claims that the money currently sent to Brussels could be diverted to the state-run National Health Service (NHS).

He said Johnson and other senior Vote Leave figures had suggested privatising or charging for the NHS, quipping that it was “about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python”.

In a swipe at Johnson, who is widely tipped as a possible future Tory leader, Major described him as a “charming court jester” but said he would be unlikely to command the loyalty of lawmakers in the party.

Johnson appeared on the same programme shortly afterwards, where he said he did not want to escalate “blue-on-blue” attacks but defended the Vote Leave campaign.

He said Britain should be able to decide how it spends the £350 million (450 million euros, $500 million) a week it contributes to the EU budget – a figure that excludes Britain’s £85 million weekly rebate.

“There are fundamental ways now in which we cannot control our lives,” the former London mayor said, citing both the money, laws and immigration.

On the anniversary of Britain’s 1975 referendum on membership of the then Common Market, Johnson said the bloc had “changed out of all recognition”.

A compilation of the six latest polls by the What UK Thinks research product put the “Remain” and “Leave” camps on 50 percent support each, excluding undecideds.

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