For those of you not on Twitter we are pleased to reproduce Repubblica journalist Antonello Guerrera’s helpful compliation of highlights from Sir John Major’s barnstorming speech, 9 November, Middle Temple. Thank you, Antonello.
BREAKING. Sir John Major: “Complacency and nostalgia are the route to national decline”
“We are no longer a great power. We will never be so again. In a world of nearly 8 billion people, well under 1% are British.
We are a top second-rank power”
Our hefty international influence rested on our history and reputation, buttressed by our membership of the EU and our close alliance with the US.
Suddenly, we are no longer an irreplaceable bridge between Europe and America. We are now less relevant to them both
I do find it surprising that – in the midst of the Covid crisis – the Government appears to be fostering disputes with the Judiciary […]; the Civil Service, upon whose help the Government depends; and the BBC, still the most respected broadcaster on the planet.
.#Brexit divided England & Wales from Scotland and Northern Ireland. It divided political parties and families; the young and their elders; business and trade unions; and friend from friend. As its full impact becomes apparent in the New Year, old wounds may re-open”
“There is no consensus on #Brexit, and never has been. It was a bitterly divisive policy, and uncorked a populism that may be difficult to quell.
The Referendum debate was unlike any I have known before. Emotion overcame reality”.
Sir John on #Brexit:
"Fiction defeated fact and fostered a belief in a past that never was – whilst boosting enthusiasm for a future that may never be.".
"If that mode of politics takes root, it will kill all respect in our system of government".
“In the #Brexit Referendum, Britons voted to leave EU. I have never hidden my view, nor have I changed it. To my mind – and I am no starry-eyed European – Brexit is the worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime.
"Brexit was sold to our electors on false premises"
“Free speech for those who supported remaining in the EU came at a price. They were pilloried as “Remoaners”. Judges were denounced as “Enemies of the People”. Opponents of Brexit were cowed. It was shameful. No democracy should find itself in such a position”
“#Brexit was sold to the nation as a win-win situation. It is not”.
"We were promised we would stay in the Single Market. We have not".
"We were told trade with the EU would be frictionless. It will not be".
“We were promised we would save billions in payments to the European Union: a bus was driven around the country telling us so. Not so: #Brexit is costing billions – not saving them”.
“More recently – and for the first time in our long history – Ministers have proposed legislation giving them powers to break the law. This is a slippery slope down which no democratic Government should ever travel”
“It was claimed, #Brexit wouldn’t increase support for Scottish independence or a united Ireland. It has”.
“It defies logic that intelligent men and women making such extravagant promises did not know they were undeliverable – and yet they continued to make them.
"It was politics. It was campaigning. It was for a cause".
"It was also unforgivable"
“If that is how we [Britain] are going to conduct our public affairs, then not only will our politics truly fall into a bad place, but our word as a nation will no longer be trusted”
“Trade has always been the life-blood of our prosperity.
We were promised a comprehensive trade deal with the EU. We were told this would be “the easiest deal in history” because “we hold all the cards”. Apparently not”
“As the politics changed, the promises were ditched”.
"We can now look forward to a flimsy, barebones #Brexit deal – or no deal at all".
"This is a wretched betrayal of what our electors were led to believe"
“#Brexit is no friend of free trade with Europe”.
"It may set up new tariff barriers [and other consequences]. These costs and complexities are the certain legacy of Brexit".
"This is as a result of our negotiating failure – and it is a failure."
“There is no Australia deal. It is a fantasy: a euphemism for No Deal at all – and the Government should say so.”
"It is time to stop putting Ministers on the media who speak to a pre-prepared script and parrot misleading or pointless slogans." 👀
“It is important we negotiate a more comprehensive relationship with the EU”
"We should recognise that the EU nations are bound with ourselves in ties of common interest, history and future destiny"
"To ignore this would be a dereliction of our national interests"
🚨 Sir John Major on the Scottish referendum: 🚨
"The Westminster Government could agree for an Independence Referendum to take place, on the basis of two referenda. The first to vote upon the principle of negotiations, and the second upon the outcome of them".
Sir John Major on #Scotland: “The purpose of the second referendum would be that Scottish electors would know what they were voting for, and be able to compare it to what they now have. This did not happen with Brexit: had it done so, there may have been no #Brexit“
Sir John on an #Ireland border poll: “The time for a poll is not yet come. But it will. And if – when it does – the Northern Irish vote for unification, then those who ignored the warnings that #Brexit posed will have to answer for the dismantling of a further part of the UK”
“[The Internal Market Bill] is unprecedented in all our history – for good reason. It has damaged our reputation around the world”
"Lawyers everywhere are incredulous that the UK – "the cradle of the Rule of Law" – could give themselves the power to break the law"
“It is essential we remain a United Kingdom – and reinforce the values that have built our reputation”.
"If we cannot again be a great power, we can be a great example".
"If we cannot compel, we can influence".
25) Sir John: "We can be “Global Britain” […] but we must reject the narrow nationalism that some have imported into our politics.
We must put aside the notion of “British exceptionalism”: it is a fantasy baked into the minds of those who do not know how the world has changed"
“But – we can be exceptional”.
"All this – and more – can be achieved".
"We like to think of ourselves as the land of hope and glory. “Hope” is essential – most especially during the darkest of times".
"But I am ambivalent about the “glory”".
“I will settle for a land that is united and prosperous; which rises above challenges – as it has done so often in the past; whose word is trusted both near and far; and whose people are seen to be decent, fair and compassionate to all”
“In every corner of our United Kingdom that remains the instinctive heartbeat and it is one which I hope will always prevail”.
(excepts from a speech delivered by John Major on Nov 9 2020 at Middle Temple)