Sir John Major has slammed senior Tory MPs for failing to speak out against Boris Johnson, saying they left the UK ‘damaged’.
Appearing before a House of Commons committee on Tuesday, the former prime minister said the government had “broken the law” and risked “ripping our constitution to shreds”.
He said: “What has been done over the past three years has damaged our country at home and abroad and I think it has also damaged the reputation of Parliament.
“Blame for these failings must lie primarily – primarily, but not solely – with the prime minister, but many in his cabinet are equally culpable, as are those outside the cabinet who abetted him.
“They fell silent when they should have spoken and then only spoke when their silence became self-destructive.”
Sir John made his comments during a meeting of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as part of its inquiry into ethics and propriety in government.
Reading an opening statement to the committee, Sir John said: ‘I think the whole country knows the litany.
“The government broke the law, illegally tried to prorogue Parliament, ignored the national lockdown by breaking its own laws in Downing Street and tried to change parliamentary rules to protect one of their own.
“It’s not meant to be an exclusive list and it isn’t, but the resulting damage is widespread and goes beyond Parliament.”
He also warned that democracy was under threat from breaches of ethical standards, with the UK “at the top of a slope”.
He said: “In all four countries of the UK, we take democracy for granted. We should not.
“If you look around the world you will find that it is receding in many countries and has been for 10 to 15 years or more and it looks like it will continue.
“Democracy is not inevitable. It can be undone step by step, action by action, lie by lie. It must be protected at all times and it seems to me that if our law and our accepted conventions are ignored we are on a very slippery slope which ends up reducing our constitution to shreds.
Advocating for changes to codes of conduct governing the behavior of ministers, he added: “Bad habits, if they take root, can become precedents and precedents can perpetuate bad habits for a very long time and that should not be authorized. .”