Betty Boothroyd: Cameron '˜gambled' nation's future to save Tory party

BETTY Boothroyd today accuses former prime minister David Cameron of 'gambling' the nation's future over Brexit in order to save the Tory party '“ a strategy that culminated with his successor Theresa May calling a snap election this week.

Baroness Betty Boothroyd, in her office at Westminster. Picture: James Hardisty

Britain’s first female Speaker offers the withering assessment in an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post to mark the 25th anniversary of her landmark election.

She claims Mr Cameron lacked the tactical skill shown by Labour’s Harold Wilson when Britain endorsed membership of the then EEC in 1975. “I am troubled about the situation we’re in at the present time,” says the Dewsbury-born cross-bench peer. “The referendum was the greatest decision we had to make. I believe it was the wrong one and I think I shall be proved right.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It has given our Ministers a great deal of extra involvement when they should be concentrating on things domestically. We went into the referendum not knowing what the outcome would be if we voted to come out of Europe. Nobody told us. (David) Cameron didn’t tell us.

“I think David Cameron gambled with the future of the nation and he lost. He did it to save his party and he wasn’t as skilful as Harold Wilson was (in 1975). That’s the trouble we are in today. Everybody is concentrating on Brexit and not worrying about the Health Service, the railways and the rest of it.”

In a wide-ranging interview before Mrs May called a surprise election on Tuesday, she accused Mr Cameron, and Labour’s Tony Blair, of undermining the Lords by the elevation of party donors to the Upper House.

“I don’t deny Prime Ministers making appointments but not in the hundreds,” said Baroness Boothroyd, 87, who intends to continue campaigning for the number of peers to be halved to 400. “People like me have got to go. But I’m not going on my own. When I go, I’m going to take a lot more people with me.

“I don’t want any elected peers. They have got to be appointed or they are competing with the House of Commons. They need to be selected from different parts of the country, not just southerners. We want people of the professions – a great mixture – so they can bring their knowledge and qualifications.”