Former U.K. Prime Minister John Major Rips Into Brexit Hardliners

(Bloomberg) -- Former U.K. Prime Minister John Major is back on the warpath, laying into Brexiters in his own Conservative Party and warning them that voters won’t forgive them for making promises “that will never be delivered” about life outside the European Union.

Major, who succeeded Margaret Thatcher, saw his own time in office during the 1990s overshadowed by disputes about Europe. In a speech in the Foreign Office on Tuesday evening, he will warn that Brexit could be devastating.

“It will damage our national and personal wealth, and may seriously hamper our future security, ” Major will say according to extracts from his speech. “It may even, over time, break up our United Kingdom. It will most definitely limit the prospects of our young.”

Though the text of his speech, released in advance, didn’t name anyone, his attack was clearly aimed at, among others, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: “princelings fighting for the political crown” who issue “coded messages” that are “about as subtle as a punch on the nose.”

“Those whose focus is on self-advancement are rarely the most suitable to be entrusted with power,” Major will say, describing the decision to leave the EU as a “colossal misjudgment.”

Major’s speech will make Conservative opponents of Brexit feel better, but there’s little love lost between him and Tory euroskeptics.

They tormented him throughout his time in office, leaving the party so divided that it took them 13 years to recover from their 1997 election drubbing. They regard him as a weak prime minister who signed up to the creation of the EU.

His view of them: “I believe those who promised what will never be delivered will have much to answer for. They persuaded a deceived population to vote to be weaker and poorer. That will never be forgotten -- nor forgiven.”

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