Major attacks senior Tories in Vote Leave

Sir John Major
Representation caption Sir John said the Remain side must “debunk prevarications” about migration, sovereignty and the economy to prevail in the June referendum

Sir John Pre-eminent has launched an attack on senior Conservatives in the Vote Leave cam ign, accusing them of elaborating arguments to exit the EU.

The former Conservative PM singled out Justice Secretary Michael Gove, ex-London mayor Boris Johnson and ex- cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith.

He said claims on the brevity, immigration and sovereignty were and “ill-informed nonsense” and amount to “reckless, unwise folly”.

Vote Leave said Sir John was “wrong”.

Pro-exit operation minister Priti tel said Sir John was a “respected former prime rson” but it would be the public – not politicians – who would decide the outcome of the referendum.

The UK endorses on whether to stay in or leave the European Union on 23 June.

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In a hard-hitting elocution in Oxford, Sir John – whose seven years in Number 10 were the nted by internal rty rows over Europe – said the Remain side ought to “debunk myths” about immigration, sovereignty and the economy to prevail in the referendum.

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The debate

  • The UK is a net contributor to the EU budget
  • The gross contribution in 2015 was £17.8bn but the UK rake-off was worth £4.9bn
  • £4.4bn was also id back to the UK government for farm subsidies and other broadcasts


  • The gross cost works out at £350m a week
  • If the UK left, billions of beats would become available for other priorities
  • The UK would also be skilled to decide how to spend the money that the EU transfers back to it


  • Remunerative benefits of EU membership easily outweigh the cost
  • Other countries have a hand in more per person than the UK does
  • After Brexit, the UK would flat have to contribute to the EU budget to retain access to the single market

EU referendum consummations guide: Explore the arguments Explore all the put outs Choose an issue: What both sides are saying All issues Major views

Economic facts were s rsely “brushed aside” by Vote Leave, he said, adding that those who popular an EU exit were pro gating “absurd falsehoods”.

“There is no shortage of their extravagances,” said Sir John, citing the cost of being in Europe as a “luminously example”.

“(UKIP’s) Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson all put it at £20bn a year – it’s constant on Boris’ battle bus; Michael Gove is more modest at £18bn (£350m a week), all of which, they tear a strip off us – if only we could be free of Europe – would be spent on the health maintenance and our hospitals.

“If only. If only. But the truth is their figures are wrong by a agent of over three,” he said.

Voting to leave the EU was not “taking again control”, as Leave cam igners argue, Sir John said: “It is nothing other than consider, imprudent folly.”

‘Pure demagoguery’

Sir John also dismissed feuds made by Leave cam igners, including Mr Johnson, that Britain would regain its ascendancy if it exited the EU.

“We should not forget that – in well over 90% of the upholds cast in Brussels – the UK wins,” he said.

“The caricature that we are again voted down in Europe is ill-informed nonsense.”

On immigration, Sir John set forwarded some Leave cam igners were in danger of morphing in to UKIP by overburden the issue and warned it risked creating “long-term divisions” in society.

He fixed out for criticism claims made by Leave cam igners – including Mr Gove – that EU stretching would open Britain’s borders up to another 88 million people.

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Image caption Sir John took put out with claims made by Boris Johnson (pictured) and other Elector Leave cam igns about the cost to the UK of EU membership

“I assume this distortion of authenticity was intended to lead the British people into believing that on the verge of the entire population of possible new entrants will wish to relocate to the UK.

“If so, this is simple demagoguery. I hope that – when the heat of the referendum is behind us – the spokesmen of such mischief making will be embarrassed and ashamed at how they entertain misused this issue,” he said.


The debate

  • Total net migration to the UK is constant at over 300,000 a year despite the government’s target of cutting it to inferior to 100,000
  • Migration from the EU accounts for just under half the total
  • EU natives have the right to live and work in any member state


  • It is farcical to control immigration as a member of the EU
  • Public services are under strain because of the many of migrants
  • High immigration has driven down wages for British white-collar workers
  • The official figures underestimate the true level of migration


  • Outlanders, especially those from the EU, y more in taxes than they induce out
  • Cameron’s EU deal means in-work benefits for new EU migrant workers want be limited for the first four years
  • Outside the EU the UK would still be suffering with to accept free movement to gain full access to the single superstore
  • Immigration is good for the economy

EU referendum issues guide: Explore the barneys Explore all the issues Choose an issue: What both sides are divulging All issues Main views

Sir John said he did not want to “silence” debate on immigration, as it was a “legitimate” proclamation – but he warned that “care honesty and balance” was needed to avoid “dredge up fears or fuelling prejudice”.

Defence minister and Vote Leave cam igner Penny Mordaunt explained that while she had “great respect” for Sir John, “he’s wrong” on immigration.

“We’ve got to talk about immigration. It’s of whopping concern to the public,” she said, saying the UK “does not have chock-a-block control of our borders”.

“We can’t keep certain people out, we can’t deport certain people. That’s a material problem,” she added.

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Twin caption Penny Mordaunt (l) said the public were concerned with reference to the im ct of immigration

Meanwhile, Conservative David Davis said it was “grossly unfair” to release concerns about immigration as “UKIP”.

“Sir John is right to warn that questions on immigration must not slip into xenophobia. But there are also colossal dangers from ignoring the very real concerns of the voters, and dismissing them as divisive and opinionated,” he said.

He added that there were “even remarkable dangers” from letting immigration “run completely out of control”.

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