JOHN MAJOR: Stopping Brexit is far more important than party loyalty at this election

PUBLISHED: 10:56 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:01 10 December 2019

Sir John Major gives a speech on Brexit at Somerset House.  (Photograph by Leon Neal/Getty Images).

Sir John Major gives a speech on Brexit at Somerset House. (Photograph by Leon Neal/Getty Images).

2018 Getty Images

Former Conservative prime minister SIR JOHN MAJOR says now is not the time for tribalism at this election.

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In a few days' time, we will be choosing our next government and our next parliament. The choice of MPs we make will determine our future. At elections, political tribes join together to promote their own policies, and criticise those of their opponents. That is the nature of elections.

But there are always individuals who enhance parliament. And there are always policies on which every party can agree. One is democracy, and the right of every adult to vote. At every election the future of our country is at stake. But on this occasion even more so than usual.

When the nation voted on Brexit they did so on a diet of fiction and undeliverable promises. As the facts become known, it is extraordinary that a new vote is denied: extraordinary, and undemocratic.

People have strong views on Brexit. Mine are very clear. I believe that leaving the European Union is the worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime.

It will affect nearly every single aspect of our lives for many decades to come. It will make our country poorer and weaker. It will hurt most those who have least.

Never have the stakes been higher, especially for the young. Brexit may even break up our historic United Kingdom. Within a few years, Scotland may leave the Union. Northern Ireland may unite with the South. Both may do so to remain in the European Union.

Younger generations have already recognised the importance of this election - by registering to vote in record numbers. Their vote is crucial - for they have the longest lease on our country's future. My message to them, and indeed to all voters, is very clear: Don't allow your future to be shaped by others, with no input from yourselves. Every single voter can make a difference to the result. So don't hang back. Don't wake up on Friday and regret not making a choice.

To vote means to choose. So choose the future you believe in.

Vote for the candidate who you believe will best represent your own views and aspirations in parliament. I was in politics for many years, and - believe me - no single party has a monopoly on wisdom.

I am a Conservative, but there have always been policies of other parties with which I agreed. That is politics as it truly is - not as tribal politicians pretend it to be. Tribal loyalty has its place. It can be good and honourable. But there are also limits to it. It is why, 22 years after we led our parties against one another in the 1997 election, I have, as part of the campaign for a final say referendum, shared a platform - at least via a televised recording - with Tony Blair.

It is also why I support people like David Gauke, Dominic Grieve, and Anne Milton. Principled, decent human beings forced out of the Conservative Party and now fighting this election as independents. But let me make one thing clear: None of them has left the Conservative Party, the party has left them.

Without such talent on its benches, parliament will be the poorer, which is why - if I were resident in any of their constituencies - they would have my vote.

This is not a time for tribal loyalty. It's time to vote with your head and your heart. Whatever you do, don't let your vote be wasted. Never has it been as important as now.

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