Former PMs Major and Brown Unleash Scathing Critique on Tory Infighting and Governance Failures in the UK

In a scathing rebuke to Conservative Members of Parliament seeking to oust Rishi Sunak and usher in the fourth prime minister since the 2019 general election, Sir John Major, former Conservative leader (1990–1997), expressed his dismay at the party’s internal discord. The seasoned ex-premier condemned what he termed as Tory ‘malcontents,’ emphasizing that the ongoing party turmoil was detrimental to both morale and effective governance.

Sir John particularly criticized the actions of former Prime Minister Liz Truss, highlighting her dismissal of the Treasury’s top civil servant upon assuming office at No10. He did not spare current Chancellor Rishi Sunak, taking issue with his proposed asylum plan for Rwanda. Major’s remarks came as part of a joint effort with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to advocate for a comprehensive overhaul of the United Kingdom’s governance structure.

Call for Systemic Overhaul and Decentralization

Sir John Major and Gordon Brown joined forces to endorse calls for a fundamental restructuring of Britain’s governance system. Speaking at the launch of a report by the Institute for Government, Major argued that the existing Cabinet government had grown ‘too large and cumbersome.’ He advocated for a decentralized approach, emphasizing the need for maximum delegation from central government departments to local bodies. Major supported the commission’s principle of spreading power across various levels, asserting that failure to delegate results in wasted resources within the political and administrative apparatus.

Cabinet Reform and Decision-Making

Major acknowledged the challenges posed by an excessively large and unwieldy Cabinet but expressed reservations about the practicality of a formal inner cabinet, as proposed by the report. He suggested alternatives, such as the formation of an informal cabinet sub-committee or ad hoc meetings chaired by the prime minister, to achieve the objective of a smaller decision-making body. Major underlined the importance of avoiding alienation among excluded parties in the pursuit of effective governance.

Critical Evaluation of Government Conduct

Sir John Major did not shy away from critiquing his political successors, singling out Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda policy and Liz Truss’s removal of Treasury official Sir Tom Scholar. He underscored the damaging impact of having three prime ministers within one parliamentary term, with some factions pushing for a fourth. Major also highlighted the negative optics of a Supreme Court ruling against the government, public disputes among ministers, and the dismissal of civil servants offering dissenting advice.

Brown’s Economic Warning and Turnaround Strategy

Gordon Brown, who served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, delivered a stark warning about Britain facing a ‘make-or-break decade for our economy.’ Citing reduced growth rates, lower productivity, and increasing regional economic inequalities, Brown called for a strategic turnaround to address these challenges. He stressed the need for a proactive economic recovery plan, urging a departure from existing governance patterns to confront the pressing issues faced by the nation.

Repositioning the Treasury for Economic Growth

In his address, Brown argued that the Treasury must transcend its traditional role as a finance department and adopt a broader scope as an ‘economic department.’ He cautioned against the Treasury retreating into a ‘comfort zone’ focused solely on financial matters, emphasizing the importance of a more dynamic approach to drive economic growth and address pressing national concerns.

In conclusion, the collaborative effort of Sir John Major and Gordon Brown underscores a bipartisan call for significant reforms in the UK’s governance structure, aiming to promote decentralization, effective decision-making, and strategic economic recovery. The former leaders’ critique of the current political landscape signals a shared concern for the nation’s trajectory and a collective call for systemic change.

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