Winston Churchill’s grandson has claimed a no-deal Brexit would be the “most serious crisis” Britain has faced since the Second World War.
Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames, a staunch pro-European who was a minister under John Major, also claimed Margaret Thatcher would not have taken the UK out of the EU.
Attacking Boris Johnson’s pro-Brexit government, he said: “What they want to do is to leave on October 31, regardless it seems of the consequences. I think that is a highly foolish thing to do.”
And in an obvious reference to his grandfather, the wartime leader, he said: “It’s really the most serious crisis to face this country since 1940.”
Sir Nicholas’s typically forthright and outspoken comments came in an interview with broadcaster Iain Dale at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Asked about comparisons between Mr Johnson and Winston Churchill, he said: “I don’t buy the theory that Boris is masquerading as Churchill.
“I think he admires my grandfather greatly and that he sees the great lessons to be learned from Churchill’s life.
“I didn’t vote for Boris and I’m not pleased with Boris, but I absolve him of that particular charge.
“The charge I do not absolve him from is wanting to have a no-deal Brexit, which I think would be a disaster for my country.
“If it happens, I think it’s very bad news for our country at what is a very bad time for our world.
“I think it’s going to make us less independent, less influential and less secure.”
Sir Nicholas, MP for Mid Sussex but tipped to retire at the next election, also criticised Mr Johnson for “not trying to negotiate with the Europeans” to attempt to secure a Brexit deal.
“I think that’s a mistake,” he said. And he claimed: “I guarantee Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have taken the UK out of the European Union.”
Criticising the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs, he said: “As a staunch Remainer, I have voted more often to leave the European Union with a withdrawal agreement than has Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mark Francois and any of those other people, and they are the staunch leavers.”
He described being Churchill’s grandson as “a never-ending source of pride and pleasure”, and added: “It’s never been a burden. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have that inheritance.
“I’m not Winston Churchill, nor is anyone else for that matter.”
He also told an anecdote he has told many times about how, as a young child, he once went into his grandfather’s bedroom as he lay in bed surrounded by papers and pets, and asked: “Is it true, grandpapa, that you’re the greatest man in the world?
“He said: ‘Yes, now bugger off’.”
And lamenting the current state of politics, Sir Nicholas added: “It is a pity that in this country we seem to have got into a semi-nationalistic, moving-to-the-right Conservative Party and a hard-left party led by a hard-left politician.”
Sir Nicholas was also asked about his relationship with the Prince of Wales, having been friends with the heir to the throne since the pair were 11.
“He will be a wonderful king,” he said, adding: “I would die in a ditch for him. He is incredibly knowledgeable about a vast area of endless subjects.
“He will be filling – when the bad day comes – some of the biggest shoes in our country. But I am absolutely confident that the Prince of Wales will be a very good monarch and I also believe he will be his own man.”