David Cameron's comments indicated he was stung by the claims made by former Prime Minister John Major.

Cameron hits back at Major criticisms

Cameron has hit back at former Prime Minister John Major for his recent comments on the 'shocking' numbers of privately educated in power.

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Major: 'Truly dreadful outcome' if UK exits EU

It would be a "truly dreadful outcome" for both the UK and the EU if the result of the referendum - promised by Mr Cameron if the Tories win the next general election in 2015 - is that Britain decides to leave, Sir John Major said.

Of course, we would survive, but there would be a severe price to pay in economic well-being, in jobs and in international prestige.

In a world of seven billion people, our island would be moving further apart from our closest and largest trading partners, at the very time when they, themselves, are drawing closer together. This makes no sense at all.

Major warns cost of leaving EU would be 'severe'

Sir John Major warned that Britain will pay a "severe price" if it votes to leave the European Union. Credit: PA Wire

Britain will pay a "severe price" if it votes to leave the European Union, Sir John Major warned.

The former prime minister argued that the exit could cost billions, and would leave the UK isolated internationally yet still required to implement EU regulations it had no part in framing.

Sir John - whose premiership was scarred by long-running battles with Tory Euro-sceptics - backed David Cameron's strategy of renegotiating Britain's membership before staging an in/out referendum as the best way of finally resolving the Europe issue.


PM: Social mobility held back by lack of 'aspiration'

Social mobility is being held back in part by a lack of aspiration from people who are not white and middle class, David Cameron suggested.

Prime Minister David Cameron arriving in Delhi yesterday.
Prime Minister David Cameron arriving in Delhi yesterday. Credit: PA Wire

Endorsing Sir John Major's call for action counter the "truly shocking" dominance of privately educated affluent individuals in powerful positions, he insisted it was not enough just to "make changes and sit back. He said:

"You've got to get out there and find people, win them over, get them to raise aspirations, get them to think they can get all the way to the top."

Read: Cameron hits back at Major criticisms

Major: Dominance of privately educated 'truly shocking'

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has criticised the number of privately educated and wealthy middle-class in the “upper echelons” of power in the UK, which he dubbed "truly shocking".

Sir John Major
Sir John Major went to a comprehensive school in south London and left with three O-levels. Credit: PA

In a speech at South Norfolk Conservative Association on Friday, Major gave a stinging assessment of social mobility in 21st century Britain, with remarks that will hurt Conservative leader and Old Etonian David Cameron.

"In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately-educated or the affluent middle class.

"To me, from my background, I find that truly shocking."

However, the former Conservative Prime Minister levelled the blame for the collapse in social mobility with previous Labour governments, who left a "Victorian divide between stagnation and aspiration".

Iain Duncan Smith mocks John Major's 'cones hotline'

Iain Duncan Smith has taken a swipe at his former Tory rival John Major today over the former prime minister's traffic cones hotline initiative during the 1990s.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions hit back after Major this week questioned his former colleague's ability to reform benefits.

Iain Duncan Smith mocked John Major as ‘an intellect that brought us cones hotline’
Iain Duncan Smith mocked John Major as ‘an intellect that brought us cones hotline’ Credit: PA

Duncan Smith told the Evening Standard: “Well, as I say, I never really get too fussed about what people think about their own intellects. I’m always happy to be in awe of someone whose own intellect delivered us the cones hotline, I must say.”

Major's infamous telephone hotline was set up for people to call to complain about unattended roadworks and has gone down in political history as one of the most ridiculous initiatives launched by the British Government.


PM: Major right that energy bills 'at unacceptable level'

by - Deputy Political Editor

David Cameron said during Prime Minister's Questions that where Sir John Major is right on energy is that bills "have reached an unacceptable level."

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major .
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major called for a windfall tax on energy companies yesterday. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Archive

Ed Miliband comes back with, "John Major actually won a majority."

Major 'possibly trying to be helpful' with energy remarks

by - Deputy Political Editor

It's worth remembering that these comments from Sir John Major were made to a lunch of Westminster journalists. You can't for a minute say that he didn't think that these would reach a wider audience.

It's quite possible that he was trying to be helpful, flying some kites for the Government, so if they did soon make an announcement on energy policy it wouldn't look like Labour leader Ed Miliband was calling all the shots.

If that was the case, Downing Street were doing a very good job of hiding it today - saying they have no plans for a windfall tax.

Major: 9-10% energy price rises 'not acceptable'

At the moment I do not see how it can be in any way acceptable that with energy prices rising broadly 4% in terms of costs that the price to the consumer should rise by the 9-10% that we are hearing.

I do not regard that as acceptable at all by the energy companies.

And it is not acceptable to me, it ought not to be acceptable to anyone, that many people are going to have to chose between keeping warm and eating. That is not acceptable.

So if we get this cold spell the government, I think, will have to intervene and if they do intervene, and it is costly, I for one would regard it as perfectly acceptable for them then, subsequently, to levy and excess profits tax on the energy companies and claw that money back to the Exchequer, where their primary job is to get the economy working and people back to work.

– Former Prime Minister Sir John Major

Major calls for windfall tax on energy companies

by - Political Correspondent

The former Prime Minister Sir John Major today called for a windfall tax on energy companies to help ease the pressure on needy customers.

Speaking to journalists, Sir John said the Government would have to intervene if prices continued to rise.

"It's not acceptable to me that many people are going to have to choose between keeping warm this winter and eating," he said at a Press Gallery lunch.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major Credit: Press Association

If intervention proved costly, he said, then he would favour a levy on the energy companies' profits.

Asked if he was making Ed Miliband's case for him, he insisted not.

He said the Labour leader's heart might be in the right place on this, but his head had "gone walkabout".

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