Francois declares how ‘Thatcher would have been a Brexiteer’ as he rejects Patten’s claim

famously locked horns with the EU at the Fontainebleau European Council in June 1984, negotiating a which amounts to roughly 66 percent of the UK’s annual net £9.6billion contribution to the bloc. Her perceived Euroscepticism has been the subject of fierce debate in recent years, with plenty of speculation about what her position would have been had she had the opportunity to have her say .

She voted to stay in in 1975, that famous jumper, but that was to remain in what we called the Common Market

Mark Francois

Speaking on Saturday, Lord Patten suggested Mrs Thatcher, who died in 2013, would not have voted to leave the EU.

However, during a break from campaigning in the Rayleigh and Wickford constituency, where Mr Francois is hoping to be re-elected as MP, when questioned about whether he would disagree with Lord Patten, a former Tory Party chairman and Governor of Hong Kong, he told “I would.

“She voted to stay in in 1975, that famous jumper, but that was to remain in what we called the Common Market.

Mark Francois Chris Patten Margaret Thatcher

Mark Francois disagrees with Chris Patten over Margaret Thatcher (Image: GETTY/Daily Express)

Chris Patten

Former Tory chairman Chris Patten said he believed it was “unlikely” Mrs Thatcher would have voted Leave (Image: GETTY)

“And the British people were told in that referendum, and of course, I was not old enough to vote then, but I have looked at some of the literature and they were told they were voting for a free trade area.”

By contrast, Mr Francois, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) added: “The reason we are where we are today is because it just went way, way beyond that and we’ve ended up with the European Union trying to run our everyday lives.

“And we’ve said to the British people in the referendum, do you want to get out of this, and they said yes.

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Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher in her famously pro-European jumper in 1975 (Image: GETTY)

“If you remember that booklet which went through every door just before the referendum, £9.2million of British taxpayers’ money, which I think could have been better spent elsewhere.

“But anyway, it went through, and it said on the back page, I still remember it, extremely clearly, this is a once-in-a-generation.

“And then it said, ‘This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.’.”

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Mark Francois

Mark Francois believes Mrs Thatcher would have been a Leaver (Image: Daily Express)

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister for 11 years, died in 2013 (Image: GETTY)

“Well the people decided to leave. Parliament has spent three years trying to prevent that implementation.

“The only way we leave now is if people vote for a Conservative majority Government that then honours the referendum, gets the deal through, and then we leave the European Union.”

Lord Patten, formerly Chris Patten, 75, who famously lost his Bath seat in the 1992 election, despite coordinating his party’s ultimate victory, aired his views on Brexit during a talk at the Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival last weekend, during which he was interview by former BBC media correspondent Nick Higham.

Five steps that led to Brexit

Five steps that led to Brexit (Image: Daily Express)

During the question and answer session which followed, he told “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.”

Margaret Thatcher

Debate has raged about which way Margaret Thatcher would have voted in 2016 (Image: GETTY)

Lord Patten, generally regarded as having been on the liberal wing of the Conservative Party, later told Mrs Thatcher, with whom he disagreed frequently when in Government, had nevertheless been a “pragmatist” for whom he had had “enormous respect”.

He said she would have been appalled at the removal of the Conservative whip from Kenneth Clarke and other Conservative politicians such as former Attorney General Dominic Grieve in the closing stages of the last Parliament, decisions he described as a “disgrace”.


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