Margaret Thatcher’s former press secretary has urged Theresa May to ditch diplomacy in Brexit talks with the EU and claimed the Northern Irish “might be glad of a hard border”.
Sir Bernard Ingham, who served as Thatcher’s chief spinner from 1979 to 1990, also bizarrely claimed that the Union’s “Franco-German bosses and their lackeys” were seeking to mock the UK before of their “inferority complex”.
And the hardline Brexiteer appeared not to understand the complexity of the Irish border issue, saying the Northern Irish “might be glad of a hard border”.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, the 86-year-old said: “16 years ago, as conference chairman, Theresa May told the Tories that some saw them as ‘the nasty party’.
“Well, I have news for her as she goes back to Brussels today to negotiate Brexit: she ain’t nasty enough. She has been wasting her time if she thinks eternal reasonableness will get you anywhere with the EU.
“With their inferiority complex vis-à-vis the UK, there is nothing its Franco-German bosses and their lackeys like better than to take a rise out of us.”
Thatcher, he said, “never set out to be nice but to be effective”, adding May had “a civil service that seems to be Europhile in spite of the referendum”.
Displaying a peculiar understanding of the complex Irish border issue, Ingham writes that “every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be promising Armageddon if we leave the EU without a deal as ‘Project Fear’ gets a new lease of life thanks to this week’s crunch talks in Brussels.
“This is not to mention the Irish border which seems to be much ado about nothing, given the facility with which trade moves across the Channel. Irish cross-border traffic is nobbut [a northern term meaning ‘nothing but’] a basketful compared with the volume of trade through our ports.
“And the Northern Irish might be glad of a hard border if it becomes a backdoor for illegal immigrants.”
His advice to the PM is: “Given that the EU wishes to keep us tied to its apron strings pour encourager les autres, you will have to chuck Chequers, preferably dramatically, and tell them in no uncertain terms that if they want continued stability in Europe to which the UK is essential they had better deliver.
“You must make sure that they understand very clearly that they have got themselves in very bad odour in Britain by their pettiness and negativism. Remind them that the British want to leave because they think their federalism is unviable and dangerous.
“If they hum and ha you must, for once, get very nasty indeed. It may be against you nature, but anything else could be misinterpreted as weakening.”
Ingham has previously sparked controversy by falsely claiming that the Hillsborough disaster was caused by “tanked-up yobs”, that Scottish nationalists were “greedy as sin” and that northerners who do not vote Conservative are “thick as two planks”.
Definitely not thick as two planks, in 1997 Ingham was tricked by the satirical TV programme Brass Eye into warning about the dangers of cake, a fake drug which has made its way to the UK from the Czech Republic.
He told viewers: “They all fall on it like crazed animals, scoff the lot and then lie around waiting for a DJ to play music which sounds like this,” before playing a single beat on a cassette player and adding “eventually being brained by saucepans being thrown out of tower blocks used to make this kind of cake”.
He added: “Use your cheesebox and say no, never.”