Brexit dis­rup­tion won’t end when we leave, warns Ma­jor

For­mer PM speaks to York­shire busi­nesses

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - ROB PAR­SONS AND MARK CASCI NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENTS ■ Email: rob.par­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk PIC­TURE: JAMES HARDISTY

THE UNITED King­dom and its busi­nesses face dis­rup­tion and un­cer­tainty for “a long time” af­ter Brexit even if Theresa May’s With­drawal Agree­ment is ap­proved by MPs, for­mer Prime Minister John Ma­jor has warned.

Sir John warned that the out­come of Brexit “could scarcely be more un­cer­tain” as he spoke in York­shire ahead of the cru­cial vote on Tues­day, which could prompt a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis if the Com­mons re­jects the deal over the terms of the coun­try’s exit from the Euro­pean Union.

Down­ing Street yesterday sent dozens of Min­is­ters around the coun­try in a bid to win over pub­lic opin­ion in favour of the Prime Minister’s deal, in­clud­ing Tory chair­man Bran­don Lewis who met staff at fam­ily-run Heck Foods in North York­shire.

And as se­nior Con­ser­va­tives sug­gested Mrs May should con­sider push­ing back Tues­day’s vote to give her more time to win con­ces­sions from Europe, she an­swered ques­tions from read­ers of

The York­shire Post about the im­pact of Brexit on their lives.

She told The York­shire Post: “The peo­ple of York­shire voted to leave the EU and I truly be­lieve the Brexit deal is the right one for you – tak­ing back control of our money, bor­ders and laws.

“But which­ever way you voted, I be­lieve now is the time for us all to come to­gether as a coun­try, as we look to the fu­ture.”

Sir John, who served as Prime Minister be­tween 1990 and 1997 and has been a vo­cal op­po­nent of Brexit, told the York­shire Busi­ness Awards at the Queen’s Ho­tel in Leeds yesterday: “Life for busi­ness is never easy dur­ing times of un­cer­tainty.

“Whether one is in favour of Brexit or not, and I em­phat­i­cally am not, let there be no doubt about that. It will dis­rupt and be un­set­tling for our coun­try and its busi­ness com­mu­nity for a long time. It isn’t go­ing to go away af­ter next Tues­day or af­ter March 29.

“It will be around a long time. And the out­come at present could scarcely be more un­cer­tain.” Mean­while, writ­ing in The

York­shire Post to­day, for­mer Labour Home Sec­re­tary and York­shire MP David Blun­kett warned those pre­par­ing to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal that they would need to “get real” to deal with the re­sult­ing chaos if the agree­ment is re­jected.

The ex-Sh­effield Bright­side and Hills­bor­ough MP said the coun­try “de­serves bet­ter than the ma­noeu­vrings of the mo­ment” and added: “I re­gret that the tran­si­tion deal is not bet­ter but Theresa May, who may well be sac­ri­ficed once an agree­ment has been rat­i­fied, will be re­mem­bered more kindly in years to come than any­one at the mo­ment can en­vis­age.

“And if I’m wrong? Well tell me which of the al­ter­na­tives will suc­ceed? When and with whom at the helm? And who has the state­craft and the stature to carry it through?”

BUSI­NESSES SHOULD make “their views swiftly” known re­gard­ing the im­pact of Brexit be­fore it is too late, for­mer Prime Minister Sir John Ma­jor has warned.

Speak­ing at the York­shire Busi­ness Awards at the Queen’s Ho­tel in Leeds, Sir John said the im­pact of Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union would be felt on a long-term ba­sis and en­trepreneurs should cam­paign for what they need to sur­vive and grow be­fore the process takes place.

Sir John, who served as Con­ser­va­tive Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, told the au­di­ence that Brexit would con­tinue to cause and cre­ate un­cer­tainty for the fore­see­able fu­ture and that it would not end come March 29.

“Life for busi­ness is never easy dur­ing times of un­cer­tainty,” he said.

“The only plea I make to­day is for busi­ness to ex­am­ine the re­al­ity of what lies ahead and make their views swiftly known. Be­cause once the de­ci­sions are taken it will be too late. Brexit is not an in­ter­lude, Brexit is prob­a­bly for good.”

Sir John, who along with his fel­low for­mer Prime Min­is­ters David Cameron, Tony Blair and Gor­don Brown cam­paigned for Re­main, has been a been a stri­dent critic of both the de­ci­sion to leave the EU and the politi­cians who led the cam­paign in re­cent years.

Speak­ing in Leeds af­ter at­tend­ing the fu­neral ser­vice of for­mer US Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush se­nior on Wed­nes­day, Sir John said: “We have been led to a rup­ture with the rich­est free trade mar­ket in his­tory by decades of mis­in­for­ma­tion and mis­un­der­stand­ing.

“For all our sakes, now is the mo­ment to be crys­tal clear about what is in our na­tional in­ter­est.”

His views found a once un­likely backer in for­mer Labour Home Sec­re­tary Lord Blun­kett.

Re­ceiv­ing the Bobby Caplin Award for ex­cel­lence, Lord Blun­kett, a for­mer MP for Sh­effield Bright­side and Hills­bor­ough, told the au­di­ence that he agreed with Sir John’s views.

Speak­ing to The York­shire Post prior to his speech, he said: “I re­gret that we are where we are, and that the deal is not as good as any­one would wish. But we are leav­ing on March 29, time is lit­er­ally run­ning out.

“Un­less you be­lieve there is go­ing to be a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, and I don’t think there is go­ing to be one, or you are in favour of crash­ing out with­out a deal – and that would be cat­a­strophic – then we have got to reach an ac­cord with each other.”

Lord Blun­kett also pre­dicted there was a strong chance a deal could be fi­nalised even if Prime Minister Theresa May’s pro­pos­als are voted down in the House of Com­mons on Tues­day.

“There is no ques­tion that the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­pos­als are go­ing to be de­feated on Tues­day and there will al­most cer­tainly be a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence. I think that will be de­feated, the DUP are not go­ing to vote to put Labour into power. And there­fore af­ter Christ­mas peo­ple are just go­ing to have to get real. In York­shire, we say it as it is and in the end there has got to be a deal.”

When asked for his thoughts on the Brexit stance adopted by the cur­rent Labour Party, Lord Blun­kett said: “I think Keir Starmer, Paul Blom­field and the team are play­ing a very clever and canny hand in the sense that they have man­aged to keep their party in­volved. But the crunch will be com­ing very quickly fol­low­ing the vote of no con­fi­dence. Labour will have to come to terms with the re­al­ity, there will have to be a deal.”

The only plea I make to­day is for busi­ness to ex­am­ine the re­al­ity of what lies ahead and make their views swiftly known. Be­cause once the de­ci­sions are taken it will be too late. For­mer prime minister Sir John Ma­jor speak­ing in Leeds.

CON­CERNS: Sir John Ma­jor told the York­shire Busi­ness Awards that Brexit would be un­set­tling for ‘a long time’.

CALL TO AC­TION: Sir John Ma­jor raised the alarm at the York­shire Busi­ness Awards night, where he was backed by for­mer home sec­re­tary David Blun­kett.

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