Below is the text of the comments made by Sir John Major which were shown at the March Together for the Final Say in London on 19 October 2019.
Leaving Europe, carrying Brexit through, will raise strains we know of and strains we haven’t yet thought of. That may well end up with dividing a United Kingdom that has been together for a very long time. It is a thoroughly bad idea.
I find it very difficult to understand, as a former leader of the Conservative Party, why it is the Conservative and Unionist Party taking action that may lead to the breaking up of the United Kingdom. This seems quite extraordinary. I cannot imagine any previous generation of Conservatives putting our Union at risk.
On Northern Ireland, Sir John says:
There’s a whole generation of people in Northern Ireland who have no memory of what life was like before the Good Friday agreement. No one under the age of 20 would have any memory of the violence and death that once engulfed their neighbourhoods. I hope and pray they never do.
To risk losing what took so long to achieve is a gamble that no British government should ever take – whatever their political policy might be.
I am not surprised this has come down to the issue of the Irish border, nor that the Democratic Unionists say they will not be supporting the Prime Minister’s deal.
The Government have refused to publish their economic risk assessments but – according to independent analysts – the agreement Parliament will be debating will be far more economically damaging to the UK than the agreement reached by Theresa May, and rejected by precisely those who are now persuading others to vote for this particular agreement. It is an utterly baffling act of national self-harm.
A border down the Irish Sea also has many difficulties. It splits Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. And that, of course, always plays on the inherent fears of Northern Ireland that they’re being ignored. Those fears are very real. And they need to be addressed and assuaged.