The prospect of Sir John Major speaking on any subject is an inviting one, given his transformation from much-derided Prime Minister to all-but-perfect elder statesman. Even more so when the debate is on so emotive a topic as Britain, Europe, and David Cameron’s promise to re-write the rules and then put it to a vote.
Given Sir John’s extensive experience of both vitriol at home and interminable compromise in Brussels, his speech at Chatham House was suitably packed with insights. But there was also the hint of a not-so-hidden agenda. Talk of the need for a lead negotiator (with a seat in the Cabinet) to prepare the ground for Mr Cameron himself was followed by convincing discussion of everything from the need for careful footwork, to his own success with the Maastricht opt-outs. All of which sounded unmistakably like a pitch. Keen to lay the ghosts of “the bastards” once and for all, Sir John?