Below is the text of Sir John Major’s message to the ‘Vote for Final Say’ rally held in London on 6 December 2019.
I’m sorry not to be with you in person this evening, but grateful to have this opportunity to speak to you.
In a few days’ time, we will be choosing our next Government and our next Parliament. The choice of Members of Parliament that we all make will make a big difference.
At elections, political tribes join together to promote their own policies, and criticise those of their opponents. That’s the nature of elections.
But there are always individuals who enhance Parliament.
And there are always policies upon which every Party can agree.
One is democracy, and the right of every adult to vote.
At every election the future of our country is at stake.
But on this occasion even more than usual.
When the nation voted on Brexit they did so on a diet of fiction and undeliverable promises.
As the facts become known, it’s extraordinary that a new vote is denied: extraordinary, and frankly undemocratic.
People have strong views on Brexit. Mine are very clear.
I believe that leaving the European Union is the worst foreign policy decision in my lifetime.
It will affect nearly every aspect of our lives for many decades to come and it will make our country poorer and weaker, and the individuals within it.
It will hurt most those who have least.
Never have the stakes been higher, especially for the young.
Brexit may even break up our historic United Kingdom.
Within a few years, Scotland may leave the Union. Northern Ireland may unite with the South.
Both may do so in order to remain within the European Union.
Your young generation has already recognised this – by registering to vote in record numbers.
And your vote is absolutely crucial – for you have the longest lease on our country’s future, and our place in the wider world.
So my message to you this evening is very clear: don’t allow your future to be shaped by others, with no input from yourselves.
You – every single one of you – can make a difference to the election result.
So don’t hang back. Don’t wait until Friday, 13 December and then regret that you didn’t make a choice.
To vote means to choose.
So choose the future that you believe in – for your own generation and the next….
Vote for the candidate who you believe will best represent your own views and your own aspirations in the next Parliament.
I was in politics for many years, and – believe me – no single Party has a monopoly on wisdom.
I am a Conservative, but there have always been policies of other Parties with which I agreed.
That is politics as it truly is – not politics as tribal politicians pretend it to be.
Tribal loyalty has its place. It can be good and honourable.
But sometimes you need to vote with your head as well as your heart.
To vote for your country and your future.
This is such a time.
But, whatever you do, don’t let your vote be wasted. Never has it been as important as it is now.
* * * * *
Now, I am simply the warm-up act this evening ….. but I’d like to say a few words about those who will be joining you shortly:
First, Michael Heseltine.
Michael is a giant of the Conservative Party, a giant of successive Conservative Governments – including my own when he was Deputy Prime Minister.
He has always been fearless in protecting the best long-term interests of the United Kingdom.
Michael is, truly, one of a kind – and a very wise one of a kind.
Secondly, you will hear from David Gauke.
He, Dominic Grieve, and Anne Milton – all of them principled, decent, talented human beings – were forced out of the Conservative Party, and are now fighting this election as Independent candidates.
But let me make one thing crystal clear: none of them left the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party left them.
Without such talent on its benches, Parliament will be the poorer, which is why – were I resident in any of their constituencies – they would have my vote in this election.
And now to my third guest….
Politics throws up some strange alliances – and never more so than in this debate over Brexit….
The third guest may once have been my political opponent – but even as I say that let me add we were never personal enemies.
And on the perils of Brexit – and our joint fervent hope that the younger generation will engage in politics, and exercise its vote next week – upon that we are absolutely at one.
It seems ironic to me that, due to scheduling difficulties, I am forced to speak to you on screen – since he was always so much better at doing that than I was.
I daresay he still is.
So, with four words that – once upon a time – would never easily have passed my lips, tonight I can say with great pleasure: “Tony, over to you……”