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6 Jul, 2019 15:54

Former British spy chief blasts ‘political nervous breakdown’ over Brexit, Tories scoff

Former British spy chief blasts ‘political nervous breakdown’ over Brexit, Tories scoff

The ongoing Brexit debate has plunged Britain into a “political nervous breakdown,” former MI6 chief SIr John Sawers claimed. However, Brexiteer Tories have brushed off the ex-spook’s warning.

“We are going through a political nervous breakdown here in the UK,” Sawers told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday. “We have potential prime ministers being elected by the Conservative party now, [and] in the shape of the leader of the opposition, who do not have the standing that we have become used to in our top leadership.”

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As Sawers spoke, the Conservative Party geared up to vote on a successor to Theresa May. According to a YouGov/Times poll, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has the support of three-quarters of his party. Johnson is a committed Brexiteer, and has stated that he is willing to oversee a no-deal Brexit, should a deal with the European Union not be reached by October 31.

Johnson’s campaign manager Iain Duncan Smith lashed back at Sawers’ rebuke on Saturday. “I think he is the one going through a political nervous breakdown,” Smith told BBC Radio 4. “I’m certainly not going through one, and neither is my party. I understand the expression of democracy may frighten him.”

Sawers expressed concern for Britain’s global standing, and said it was not surprising that “the people who have devoted themselves to serving the interests of this country” – presumably including his fellow spies – disagree with the Brexit vote and the country’s current leadership prospects.

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A diplomat under Tony Blair and head of MI6 under Gordon Brown and David Cameron, Sawers has re-emerged in recent years as a fierce opponent of Brexit, campaigning against the vote in 2016 and arguing last year that leaving the EU will compromise Britain’s security, and leave the country open to attacks from “the Russians.”

“When he said that the decision to leave the EU, that it was a mistake to hold it over to the British public, that was an expression of shocking anti-democratic thought,” Smith shot back, adding that regardless of Sawers’ concern, the British people voted to leave the EU, and the next decision is “who will deliver on it by 31 October.”

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