General Election 2015: Paddy Ashdown borrows description of eurosceptics from John Major and savages Tory right

 
Guy Bentley
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Ashdown attacks Tory "bastards" (Source: Getty)

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown has given a frosty reception to John Major's warning of the perils of a Labour-SNP deal after the General Election.

Ashdown couldn't resist revisiting Major's famous line referring to right-wing eurosceptics in his cabinet as "bastards". In an interview with the BBC, he warned Major not to play into a right-wing English narrative that would leave the Tories beholden to Ukip.

So keen was Ashdown on calling euroceptic Tory MPs "bastards", he used the word seven times in the space of a four-minute interview.

Barely touching on the SNP, which was the focus of Major's speech, Ashdown proceeded to talk about how many more "bastards" there were in the Conservative Party than there were in John Major's day.

He said David Cameron faced 60 "extreme right-wingers" in his party, rather than the 16 that clashed with Major over Europe in the 1990s. This, according to Ashdown, would weaken a future Tory government and the Lib Dems were needed to anchor the Tories in the centre ground.

He added the Tory right was in an "unholy alliance" with Ukip and the Ulster unionists. The Lib Dems have coined the term "Blukip" to describe the Tory candidates for Westminster who have sympathy with Nigel Farage's party.

This morning at a speech in Solihull, Major said a Labour government propped up by the SNP would be a "recipe for mayhem."

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