And there I was, thinking nothing much could surprise me any longer. I was wrong: apparently, Sir John Major is advising Dave Cameron on foreign policy. I confidently expect further imminent additions to Dave’s advisory staff: John Terry (diversity), Bernard Madoff, in absentia (economics), Brian Sewell (family policy). It’s good to know that our PM is being guided by true experts.
Mr Major, as he then was, left during his tenure an indelible impression upon me, not to mention the rest of the country. What was especially fetching, apart from his taste in women, was his answer to the question of whom among his predecessors in office he regarded as his role model. Pitt? Canning? Peel? Disraeli? No, none of those. Mr Major, as he then was, unerringly picked Neville Chamberlain as the most outstanding PM in British history. One can understand why: what could have been more appealing to John ‘Edwina’ Major than the old newsreels of his idol waving that piece of paper in the air. Peace in our time. But not just yet.
To push through the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, Major had to combine Chamberlain’s knack for appeasement with Churchill’s bellicosity in fighting off the MPs who had misgivings. At the time he referred to them as ‘bastards’ and questioned their intellectual competence and emotional stability. Indeed, who but insane idiots could have found anything wrong with Britain stepping on the path leading to a Germany-dominated Europe?
What surprises me is that Sir John isn’t also advising HMG on fiscal policy. After all, his experience in that area is invaluable. For it was Major who, as Chancellor, dragged Britain into the ERM in 1990, a marriage that ended in divorce and cost the taxpayer £3.4 billion — a trifling amount by today’s standards but a tidy sum at the time. I’m sure if Major joined forces with Michael Heseltine (who believes we should join the euro soon), they could thrash out a policy Dave ‘David’ Cameron could claim as his own.
One does wonder whom Dave would single out as Britain’s most illustrious Prime Minister. A pound gets you a euro, it must be John Major.