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He has become one of the most vocal opponents of Brexit.
But during his time in Downing Street, John Major fumed he was ‘sick and tired’ of EU rules.
Cabinet - Office - Files - Minister - Frustration
Newly-declassified Cabinet Office files lay bare the former prime minister’s frustration at Brussels bureaucracy.
After being handed a summary of EU issues by one of his policy chiefs in April 1995, Sir John furiously scribbled: ‘Oh god. It goes on and on. I am getting pretty sick of all this.’
Document - Months - Cabinet - Office - Secretariat
In a similar document from several months earlier, the Cabinet Office’s European secretariat consolidated issues of interest to France, which held the EU’s rotating presidency at the time. It detailed how Paris was keen to use a crisis in Algeria to drum up financial support for the Mediterranean region from EU countries including the UK.
When presented with a paper setting out prominent EU matters in December 1995, Sir John simply wrote ‘bad’ beside a section on extending the remit of the European Court of Justice.
Files - Approach - Sir - John - Criticisms
While other files show his approach to be predominantly pro-EU, Sir John’s criticisms shine a light on his private frustrations while he was trying to lead a Tory party bitterly divided over Europe.
Those divisions boiled over in 1993, when the Tory leader called three eurosceptic ministers ‘****’. The comment, accidentally recorded after a television interview, is thought to have been directed at Michael Howard, Peter Lilley and Michael Portillo.
Forefront - Frustrations - Brussels - Bloc - Push
At the forefront of his frustrations with Brussels was the bloc’s final push to replace the UK’s imperial measures with the metric system in 1995.
Sir John raged at his officials when he was faced with a barrage of criticism and concern from the public over fears that distinctively British measures such as the pint could be eradicated.
Government - Document - Stall - Holder
He was presented with a government document suggesting that a British stall holder could be fined...
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