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Mr Major and Mr Blair outlined their concerns in a letter published in the Sunday Times yesterday, criticising the Government’s decision to introduce the Internal Market Bill, which Northern Ireland Secretary admitted in the Commons would breach international law. However, self-confessed “Brexit evangelist” Lee Rotherham, who was Director of Special Projects at Vote Leave, said their objections did not hold weight.
Tony Blair surrendered more vetoes than all his PM predecessors combined, and backtracked on a pledged referendum
Mr Rotherham first took to Twitter in response to a post by Peter Foster, Public Policy Editor at the Financial Times, commenting: “John Major shunted Maastricht through but then tried to empty chair the EU.
“Tony Blair surrendered more vetoes than all his PM predecessors combined, and backtracked on a pledged referendum.”
He later told Express.co.uk: “With Major, it was about the fact that the EU itself cheated by trying to get through Maastrict’s social chapter in 1992.
“When that failed, they changed the titles, ie the intro part of that, and put it back into the system.
“So not only then did it get past the UK veto, but it went into qualified majority voting as well.
“So it is a double whammy. So John Major has got a very short memory.”
Meanwhile, Mr Blair had promised a referendum on EU membership in 2004, telling the Commons “let the issue be put – and let the battle be joined,” Mr Rotherham said.
However, the vote had never actually happened, he pointed out.
He also accused Mr Blair of surrendering numerous vetoes over a wide range of EU policy during his time in Number 10, something he was widely criticised for at the time.
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Mr Rotherham said: “They both know how the EU operates.
“So they should know better than to come out now and get on their high horses.
“There is a double aspect really – they should know better, and they themselves have cut corners in the past.”
In their letter, Mr Blair and Mr Major wrote: “How can it be compatible with the codes of conduct that bind ministers, law officers and civil servants deliberately to break treaty obligations?
“As we negotiate new trade treaties, how do we salvage credibility as ‘global Britain’ if we so blatantly disregard our commitments the moment we sign them?”
The legislation, which the EU has demanded Mr Johnson scraps by the end of the month, is due to be the subject of intense wrangling in the House of Commons today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has a majority of 80, is facing a growing revolt from some of his own backbenchers, with Bob Neill, Tory MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, having tabled an amendment which could effectively stop it in its tracks.
Writing in The Times today, former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, sacked by Mr Johnson in February, said: “When the Queen’s minister gives his word, on her behalf, it should be axiomatic that he will keep it, even if the consequences are unpalatable.
“No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back.”
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