Ma­jor at­tacks rebels and tells Tory party to ‘show heart again’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Si­mon Wal­ters

FOR­MER Prime Min­is­ter Sir John Ma­jor has told war­ring Tory MPs to stop try­ing to sab­o­tage ‘valiant’ Theresa May – or see her over­thrown by a ‘poi­sonous, neo-Marx­ist’ gov­ern­ment led by Jeremy Cor­byn.

Sir John’s dra­matic in­ter­ven­tion in the Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship cri­sis came amid per­sis­tent ru­mours that Mrs May could be gone within weeks. Writ­ing in to­day’s Mail on Sun­day, Sir John says he is dis­mayed by se­nior Con­ser­va­tives ‘with their own agenda’ who were plot­ting against Mrs May – bound to be seen as a ref­er­ence to the re­cent an­tics of Boris John­son.

He writes: ‘I urge all Con­ser­va­tive MPs to re­flect very care­fully on what is at stake. The coun­try has had enough of the self-ab­sorbed dis­loyal be­hav­iour we have wit­nessed for weeks.’

And in a highly sig­nif­i­cant move, Sir John says Mrs May must be more bold if she wants to sur­vive.

He calls for big changes in the Gov­ern­ment’s ‘timid’ poli­cies to counter Labour at­tacks on ‘heart­less’ Tories, such as scrap­ping the ‘messy, un­fair and un­for­giv­ing’ Uni­ver­sal Credit wel­fare re­forms. He also urges a big emer­gency rise in public spend­ing to help the ‘have-nots’.

His com­ments come amid a se­ries of ad­di­tional blows to Mrs May’s hopes of restor­ing Tory unity and re-es­tab­lish­ing her author­ity in the wake of her dis­as­trous speech at the party con­fer­ence in Manch­ester last week.

The Mail on Sun­day can also dis­close that:

Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis wanted Mrs May to fire Mr John­son for de­fy­ing her over Brexit in the run-up to the con­fer­ence;

Days before pledg­ing to back Brexit in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, Mr John­son said he had to do so be­cause he ‘couldn’t bear’ back­ing anti-Brexit PM David Cameron;

Boris ally James Clev­erly, who has pledged loy­alty to Mrs May, was ac­cused by rebels of se­cretly plot­ting to bring her down – un­til he was ‘bought off’ with a Gov­ern­ment job. He de­nies the claim;

Down­ing Street kicked two Tory MEPs out of the party for vot­ing to block progress in Bri­tain’s Brexit talks.

In his Mail on Sun­day ar­ti­cle, Sir John praises Mrs May’s ‘valiant’ at­tempts to stay in con­trol. He says he can re­call the dis­as­trous Left-wing Labour gov­ern­ments of the 1970s and de­scribes the prospect of an ad­min­is­tra­tion led by two con­vinced neo-Marx­ists, Jeremy Cor­byn and John McDon­nell, as ‘the re­turn of a night­mare’.

In a cry from the heart, Sir John says: ‘Many peo­ple are an­gry and fear­ful over what the future holds. An un­easy nation is cry­ing out for the Gov­ern­ment to speak for them.’

A spokesman for Mr Davis last night said the claim that he thought Mr John­son should have been sacked was ‘tit­tle­tat­tle’.

Mean­while, MEPs Julie Gir­ling and Richard Ashworth were sus­pended from the party for sup­port­ing a res­o­lu­tion to block Brexit talks mov­ing for­ward.

‘Enough self-ab­sorbed dis­loyal be­hav­iour’

AP­PAR­ENT weak­ness can of­ten be a source of strength. The most fa­mous ex­am­ple of this is the de­fi­ant mes­sage sent by the French Mar­shal Fer­di­nand Foch to his su­pe­ri­ors in 1914: ‘My cen­tre is giv­ing way, my right is re­treat­ing. Sit­u­a­tion ex­cel­lent, I am at­tack­ing.’ He did so, and saved his coun­try from de­feat.

The Prime Min­is­ter should adopt this as her own pri­vate watch­word. Her snip­ing, whis­per­ing en­e­mies have thrown ev­ery­thing they have at her. They stood in­wardly gloat­ing at her mis­for­tunes last week, vainly hop­ing that she would quit in de­spair and save them from stab­bing her in the back. To her last­ing credit, she did not oblige.

While will­ing to wound, her foes fear to strike. No won­der. Not one of her crit­ics has shown any sign of be­ing ca­pa­ble of hold­ing the high­est of­fice in the land.

On the con­trary, their petty ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity at such a time shows only how un­fit they are.

Mrs May must take ad­van­tage of this. Now is the time to use the con­sid­er­able author­ity she ac­tu­ally has, thanks to the fee­ble­ness of her at­tack­ers and the over­ar­ch­ing need to de­feat Cor­bynism.

Now is the time to get rid of un­re­li­able and worn-out Min­is­ters, to bring on new and more loyal tal­ent, and to move those who are more dan­ger­ous out­side the tent than in­side it.

Writ­ing in this news­pa­per, the for­mer Tory pre­mier Sir John Ma­jor – him­self the sub­ject of end­less dis­loyal at­tacks and snip­ing till he won a Gen­eral Elec­tion – of­fers Mrs May some ex­cel­lent am­mu­ni­tion, while sav­aging her crit­ics.

The great­est con­cern of to­day’s Tory Party is the dan­ger of a Cor­byn gov­ern­ment, which Sir John de­scribes as ‘the re­turn of a night­mare’ and ‘pure poi­son to any hope of pros­per­ity’. Pol­i­tics, he tells the trou­ble­mak­ers, is not a game and their ac­tiv­i­ties must stop, for the sake of the coun­try.

He warns against any wild swerve back to Thatcherite dog­ma­tism, say­ing the Tories must not let ide­ol­ogy get in the way of com­mon sense, or al­low their far­Right to dom­i­nate the stage and so re­pel moder­ate vot­ers.

In a sharp break with the years of aus­ter­ity, he rec­om­mends a gi­ant ef­fort to solve the hous­ing cri­sis and stim­u­late the whole econ­omy, bor­row­ing money while it is cheap to do so, un­shack­ling the pri­vate sec­tor and sweep­ing aside much of our re­stric­tive plan­ning law.

At the same time, Sir John rec­om­mends a pow­er­ful, co-or­di­nated and sus­tained ef­fort to teach real skills to the young, cast­ing aside at last the dam­ag­ing class dis­tinc­tions be­tween aca­demic and prac­ti­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Rightly, he says that only by giv­ing hope to the whole nation, every so­cial class and every re­gion and coun­try of the UK, can the Tories re-en­gage with the elec­torate and de­feat the neo-Marx­ist Labour threat. And he rightly warns: ‘This can never be achieved while we re­strict our­selves only to the drum­beat of Brexit! Brexit! Brexit!’

These are words of hard-won wis­dom, from a man who has faced seem­ingly in­tractable en­e­mies in­side and out­side his party, and over­come them. Of course such a plan is risky. But in­ac­tion and dither­ing are far more dan­ger­ous.

Mrs May should seize her mo­ment.

Sir John Ma­jor OUT­SPO­KEN:

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