Meanwhile the former Tory cabinet minister and Governor of Hong Kong has said Boris Johnson’s “elastic relationship with the truth” raises question marks about his suitability as Prime Minister. And the ardent Europhile also said he had advised his children to vote for any candidate committed to preventing a no deal Brexit. Lord Patten was formerly Chris Patten, who lost his seat as MP for Bath in the 1992 general election. He was a cabinet member under Mrs Thatcher and held several high-profile roles including Environment Minister and Minster for Overseas Development.
He made his remarks during an audience at the Gibunco Literary Festival in Gibraltar on Saturday, during which he was interviewed by former BBC Media Correspondent Nick Higham.
In a Q and A afterwards, he told Express.co.uk: “I would have been very surprised if she had been in favour of the referendum, because she despised them.
“I think it would have been extremely unlikely she would have voted Leave.
“She was extremely brilliant at getting support from the centre-ground.”
Liberal-leaning Lord Patten later told Express.co.uk Mrs Thatcher, with whom he admitted he had disagreed frequently when in Government, had nevertheless been a “pragmatist” for whom he had had “enormous respect”.
Assessing the modern political landscape, he said she would have been appalled at the decision to remove the Conservative whip from Kenneth Clarke and other Conservative politicians such as former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, decisions he described as a “disgrace”.
On the subject of the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Lord Patten told Mr Higham: “I think he has an elastic relationship with the truth and it’s only a matter of time until it snaps.
With specific reference to Brexit, the avowed Remainer said: “I would hope it was still possible to stay in the EU.
“However, I think it is more likely that we will leave
“Therefore the object should be to leave on the best possible terms and in the best possible circumstances.
“But Boris Johnson has agreed a deal which is worse than Theresa May’s deal and worse than staying in.
“What I worry about is how we get the best for Britain.
“This is not ‘get Brexit done’, this is ‘get the process of Brexit started’.
Lord Patten was also sceptical about the possibility of a striking a so-called “super Canada-plus” deal with the EU after Brexit, similar to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) agreement signed in 2014, which eliminated 98 percent of the tariffs between Canada and the EU.
He said: “That took seven years to negotiate and was rejected the first time around.”
Questioned about who he was backing in next month’s general election, Lord Patten diplomatically pointed out as a member of the House of Lords he was unable to vote.
However, he said: “I’ve advised my children to vote for anyone who wants to oppose a no deal Brexit.”
Such advise would seem to exclude the bulk of the Conservative Party’s candidates, he acknowledged, adding: “The Conservative Party is not really Conservative any more.”