Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Sunday, 13 July 2008 10:50 UK

'I have sympathy' for PM - Major

Sir John Major
Sir John urged Mr Brown to 'get on with the job'

Former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major has said he feels "human sympathy" for Gordon Brown.

Sir John, who faced government divisions and economic recession in his time in office, urged Mr Brown to "get on with the job".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show Mr Brown had once been "praised more than he deserved" over the economy but was now "blamed more than he deserves".

Sir John also said he was "baffled" by MPs rejecting more expenses scrutiny.

'Nemesis lurking'

Sir John's period in office, from 1990 to 1997, was racked with problems including a recession, well-publicised divisions within the Conservative Party over Europe and newspaper reports of "sleaze" among MPs.

With warnings of economic decline and fears of negative equity in the housing market leading to thousands of repossessions - as happened in the early 1990s - he offered his assessment of Mr Brown.

Sir John said: "He has been doing an extremely difficult job in extremely difficult circumstances."

However, he added: "Nemesis is always lurking."

He added: "I think all Gordon can do is get on with the job and hope the climate changes."

When Mr Brown became chancellor in 1997 - under Tony Blair - he had inherited a buoyant economy, Sir John said.

'Desirable to audit'

He added: "For a long period he had an extraordinary ride and was praised more than he deserved.

"I think perhaps he's being blamed more than he deserves. Perhaps these things even out."

Last week, MPs voted not to subject their expenses to external auditing, with more than 30 government ministers rejecting the proposal.

Sir John said: "I strongly believe that it's desirable to audit, which Parliament rejected last week."

He added: "I don't see any case whatsoever for their [MPs'] vote against a private audit being set up."

Sir John also said he was "absolutely baffled why the government rejected it" but he was "less certain" about the need for publishing individual expenses details.

Sir John, who stood down as an MP in 2001, also ruled out a return to public life.


SEE ALSO
Minister attacks Major on 42 days
06 Jun 08 |  UK Politics
Tories attack Brown on expenses
04 Jul 08 |  UK Politics

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