Lord Patten joined former Prime Minister Sir John Major in supporting three independent candidates
Former Conservative Party Chairman Chris Patten has joined Sir John Major in backing a coalition of former Tory heavyweights contesting Boris Johnson’s bid to get a Parliamentary majority.
Lord Patten and former Prime Minister Sir John are supporting three independent candidates who had the Tory whip removed for rebelling on Brexit – and are now contesting their old party on December 12.
They gave former ministers Anne Milton and Dominic Grieve their backing – along with David Gauke, today campaigning in Rickmansworth with the help of independent London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart.
Former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine also backed independents and urged votes to vote pro-Remain Liberal Democrats.
Lord Patten, ex-Governor of Hong Kong and minister under Maragaret Thatcher and Sir John, said anti-Brexit rebels had been ‘squeezed out of the Conservative parliamentary party in a way unprecedented in my political lifetime’.
He separately added that the candidates represent ‘what the Conservative party has stood for during decades of success: a moderate, decent, socially inclusive and internationalist political movement,’ and said under Mr Johnson’s leadership the Tories were turning into ‘a narrow-based rightwing English nationalist party’, the FT reported.
Sir John told a rally last night demanding a second EU referendum in London: ‘Let me make one thing absolutely clear: none of them has left the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party has left them.
‘Without such talent on its benches, Parliament will be the poorer, which is why – if I were resident in any one of their constituencies – they would have my vote.’
It comes as Sir John told a rally last night demanding a second EU referendum in London : ‘Let me make one thing absolutely clear: none of them has left the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party has left them’
Independent David Gauke (left) is today campaigning in Rickmansworth with the help of London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart (right). Both were expelled from the Tories for rebelling on Brexit
Rory Stewart said he was proud to be joining his ‘brave friend’ David Gauke’s campaign today
Former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine urged votes to back the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats
Sir John described Brexit as the ‘worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime’, and said leaving the EU 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.’
Tony Blair was also among the speakers, saying of his one time general election opponent: ‘Thank God for John Major.’
Tony Blair said of his one time general election opponent: ‘Thank God for John Major’
Boris Johnson slapped down Sir John Major’s pro-Remain intervention with a dig at the rebellions and infighting that plagued the ex-Tory leader’s own troubled time in office.
Sir John on Friday waded into the general election campaign by teaming up with Tony Blair to urge people to vote against Brexiteer Conservatives.
But at the BBC head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Johnson came out swinging and implied Sir John was not fit to judge his Brexit policy because his stint in Number 10 was undermined by clashes with his Eurosceptic backbenchers.
Snubbing Sir John’s official title, he said: ‘Unlike Mr Major, I lead a party that is totally united as all 630 candidates at this election actually back my deal.’
The swipe came after Mr Johnson was asked by an audience member if he was worried about Sir John’s remarks or regarded him as a ‘has-been’.
The PM replied: ‘I have the utmost respect of course for all former Conservative leaders and don’t wish to deprecate anyone as a has-been but I don’t think he’s right and we have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done.
‘It’s a deal that’s ready to go, it’s oven-ready, we can get it back into Parliament by Christmas if we have a majority Conservative government.’
Boris Johnson (pictured at tonight’s BBC leaders debate) has slapped down Sir John Major’s pro-Remain intervention with a dig at the rebellions and infighting which plagued the ex-Tory leader’s own troubled time in office
At tonight’s BBC head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Johnson came out swinging and implied Sir John was not fit to judge his Brexit policy because he failed to stamp out party disunity during his stint in Number 10
Mr Blair warned voters not to give the Tories a majority on December 12. He urged voters to ‘choose wisely’ in the General Election as he backed candidates who were opposed to Brexit
During Sir John’s seven-year term from 1990-1997, he faced relentless rebellions from his own backbenches over the government’s pro-EU stance.
The infamous Maastricht Rebellion of 1992 humiliated Sir John when a haul of Tory MPs refused to back his signing up to the controversial European treaty which would bind the bloc’s member states closer together.
Yesterday, the ex-PM said he would vote for ex-ministers David Gauke, Dominic Grieve and Anne Milton – who all lost the party whip earlier this year after rebelling on Brexit – if he lived in their constituencies.
All three are former ministers under Theresa May who were thrown out of the party for defying Mr Johnson and blocking the path to leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Johnson said his predecessor John Mayor was ‘wrong’ as he visited Grodzinski Bakers, in Golders Green, north London
Sir John described Brexit as the ‘worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime’, and said leaving the EU will affect ‘nearly every single aspect of our lives for many decades to come’
Sir John urged voters to ‘choose the future you believe in’, telling young people in particular: ‘Your vote is absolutely crucial – for you have the longest lease on our country’s future, and our place in the wider world.
‘Don’t wake up on Friday December 13 and regret not making a choice.
He was joined at the rally, jointly organised by the Vote For A Final Say and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns, by Tony Blair.
Before handing over to the former Labour prime minister – who beat him in the 1997 landslide – he finished by saying: ‘So, with four words that – once upon a time – would have never easily passed my lips, I say tonight with great pleasure: ”Tony, over to you.” ‘
Mr Gauke, who is standing as a candidate in South West Hertfordshire, was introduced at the rally on Friday evening alongside his father, who has featured in his campaign videos
Mr Blair warned voters not to give the Tories a majority on December 12.
He urged voters to ‘choose wisely’ in the General Election as he backed candidates who were opposed to Brexit.
He added: ‘Here are five words I never thought I would say: Thank God for John Major.
‘To John, to Michael Heseltine, for years I stood against you, tonight, it is an honour to stand with you.
‘And to David Gauke and many others, good, smart, capable people across the political spectrum prepared to speak out, to put country before party and principle before position. Your courage is an example.’
Ex-Cabinet minister Mr Gauke, who is standing as a candidate in South West Hertfordshire, was introduced at the rally on Friday evening alongside his father, who has featured in his campaign videos.
Former attorney general Mr Grieve is hoping to be re-elected as the MP for Beaconsfield, while ex-minister Ms Milton is seeking re-election in Guildford.
All three are standing as independents after losing the Tory whip in September when they backed a plan to take control of the Commons timetable to pass legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Johnson earlier said that Sir John Major was ‘wrong’ to have endorsed three ex-Conservative independent candidates running against the party in the General Election.
‘I think it’s very sad and I think that he is wrong, and I think that he represents a view that is outdated, alas, greatly that I respect him and his record, and I think that what we need to do now is honour the will of the people and get Brexit done.’