Four British Ex-PMs Snub Johnson's Chequers Centenary Banquet
© REUTERS / POOLBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference in London
© REUTERS / POOL
Chequers, a 16th century manor house in Buckinghamshire's Chiltern Hills, has hosted foreign leaders and been the scene of many political battles – including former PM Theresa May's unveiling of her Brexit negotiation plan.
Four of the five living former British prime ministers have rejected Boris Johnson's invitation to celebrate the centenary of the PM's official country seat.
Of the five surviving ex-occupants of Number 10, only Johnson's immediate predecessor and erstwhile boss Theresa May has deigned to attend.
But Major's wife Dame Norma — who had to endure the humiliation of the 2002 revelation of her husband's affair with former then-Health Minister Edwina Currie, will attend. Dame Norma is the author of a history of the Buckinghamshire mansion.
The five ex-PMs all opposed Britain's exit from the European Union, which caused the downfall of both Cameron and May. Major, Blair, and Brown have all spoken out against honouring the decision of 52 percent of voters in the 2016 membership referendum.
May may find the banquet's venue particularly ironic. The country estate was where in July 2018, she unveiled her so-called Chequers plan to her Cabinet for negotiating the European Union withdrawal agreement and post-Brexit trade deal — which prompted Johnson's resignation as foreign secretary.
17 September, 17:06 GMT
Johnson's stint on the back benches allowed him to openly criticise May's handling of the talks with Brussels and set himself up as a leadership rival, finally taking over a year after the Chequers meeting.
May remains on the back benches as an MP for Maidenhead — from where she has frequently attacked Johnson's government on issues from cuts to foreign aid spending to the AUKUS agreement with the US and Australia, which has caused a diplomatic incident with France.
British PMs have hosted many high-profile guests at Chequers over the years. Major welcomed Russian President Boris Yeltsin to the mansion, while US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were both guests of Blair.
Cameron took Chinese President Xi Jinping to local pub The Plough, where he pulled a pint, while on another occasion he reportedly had to help German Chancellor Angela Merkel over a barbed-wired fence. The last US president to visit was Donald Trump, during his state visit during May's tenure.