POLITICS

Force Prime Ministers To Quit After 7 Years To Stop Them Going Mad, Says Labour MP

23/10/2014 13:55 BST | Updated 23/10/2014 13:59 BST
IAN JONES via Getty Images
Former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher (R) shakes hands with British prime Minister Tony Blair during commemorations marking the 25th anniversary of the Britain-Falklands conflict in London, 17 June 2007. Britain marked 25 years since its last colonial war 17 June, with ex-premier Margaret Thatcher present and Prince Andrew prominent among veterans of the Falklands conflict with Argentina. Andrew, who served as a helicopter pilot in the 1982 conflict in which 907 people died, took the salute in central London as Thatcher, who gave the order for troops to reclaim Britain's remote South Atlantic territory, looked on. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Ian Jones (Photo credit should read IAN JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime ministers should be limited to seven year terms to stop them from going mad, a veteran Labour MP has said.

Austin Mitchell told the Commons on Thursday that prime minister's who clung on to power in Downing Street for longer ended up either "barmy with delusions of grandeur" or "just brain-dead and exhausted".

In the modern era only two prime ministers have served for ten years or more. Tony Blair from 1997 until 2007 and Margaret Thatcher from 1979 until 1990. Winston Churchill led the country for eight years, over the course of two administrations.

Mitchell, who has been MP for Great Grimsby since 1977, also attacked plans to introduce a right for voters to kick MPs out of power mid-term. "I have never known a sillier, more stupid, Bill than the recall legislation," he said. "All parties are trying to grovel before the electorate by saying let's sacrifice ourselves and throw MPs to the wolves. There is no need for this."

He said instead there should be general elections ever three years, which would give voters a chance to express their view. "The system is crumbling. The parties are losing membership. They are hollowed out they are controlled by small coteries," he warned.

In June, Boris Johnson also targeted Blair by name, accusing the former Labour prime minister of having "finally gone mad". The Tory mayor of London said Blair needed "professional psychiatric help" for refusing to admit the Iraq War had been a mistake.

Blair responded by joking it was "a little disconnecting to be described as mad by Boris Johnson" as it was "not a high bar".