Former PM Sir John Major warns Brexit may be more brutal than first expected

Sir John Major - says Brexit could be more brutal than expected Credit: PA Images

Brexit "may be even more brutal than anyone expected", the former Prime Minister Sir John Major has warned.

The ex-Huntingdon MP delivered the warning in his Middle Temple’s Treasurer’s Lecture.

He also warned that the decision to leave the EU could lead to the break up of the UK with eventual independence for Scotland, and Northern Ireland unifying with the south.

  • Watch Sir John Major's Speech

The Conservative, who was a vocal supporter of the Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum, said the country was no longer a 'great power' : “In a world of nearly eight billion people, well under 1% are British.

“We are a top second-rank power but, over the next half century, however well we perform, our small size and population makes it likely we will be passed by the growth of other, far larger countries.

Describing Brexit as "the worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime" and claimed it was sold to electors on "false promises".

"The outcome of the Referendum delighted our enemies and dismayed our friends. As our nation voted against its history and its self-interest, a bemused world looked on, wondering why we had chosen to become poorer and less influential."

The UK and EU are still in talks to find an agreement before the end of the year.

Sir John Major - fears for future of UK Credit: PA Images

The Government has said it still hopes to secure a deal modelled on the EU's arrangement with Canada, but Sir John said that was "disingenuous".

And Sir John said if the Government failed to secure a deal it would be a "wretched betrayal" of the promises made during the 2016 referendum.

"Because of our bombast, our blustering, our threats and our inflexibility – our trade will be less profitable, our Treasury poorer, our jobs fewer, and our future less prosperous."

He also highlighted other impacts including:

  • the loss of freedom of movement in Europe;

  • higher food prices;

  • more expensive holidays;

  • the withdrawal of EU driving licences;

  • the cost of health insurance without the free cover of the European Health Card;

  • the loss of the Pet Passport Scheme and the expensive – and time consuming – effort to get approval for pets to travel;

  • higher roaming charges for mobile phones;

  • slower entry and more delays at European airports; and

  • the loss of the automatic right to work, live or study in the EU.

Only yesterday Home Secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel tweeted about the end to freedom of movement.

Speaking about the threat to the United Kingdom - he said Brexit could have long term implications for the union.

One deeply troubling effect of Brexit is the risk of breaking up the UK by increased support for Scotland to leave the Union, and Northern Ireland to unite with the South.

Sir John said there was still a role to play on the global stage but the country had to reject "the narrow nationalism that some have imported into our politics."