Tuesday 18 June 2019

Tories call for May to punish Heseltine for Brexit 'sabotage'

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA

Gordon Rayner

British Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure from her own MPs to withdraw the Conservative whip from Michael Heseltine after he implied he would prefer a Jeremy Corbyn government to Brexit.

The former deputy prime minister was accused of "outright sabotage" by an influential Tory think-tank, which said he could not go unpunished if Mrs May wants to be "taken seriously" in Brexit negotiations.

Mr Heseltine suggested a Corbyn government would be less "damaging" than Brexit because Labour would only cause "short-term" damage whereas Brexit would cause "a long-term disaster".

The Europhile peer has been a constant critic of Brexit, and was sacked as a government adviser in March after leading a Lords rebellion calling for a "meaningful vote" on the final Brexit deal.

The Bow Group, a conservative think-tank whose patrons include Norman Tebbit, Norman Lamont, and John Redwood, called for him to be banned from the Conservative benches.

Its chairman, Ben Harris-Quinney, a Tory councillor, said: "The Brexit negotiations cannot be led by a Conservative government that allows outright sabotage to go unaddressed within its own ranks.

"There should absolutely be room for Conservative politicians to disagree with the government's approach to Brexit, but for a member to be invested in bringing a Corbyn-led government into power in order to ignore the democratic will of the people in voting for Brexit cannot be tolerated by any party or government who wishes to be taken seriously and maintain parliamentary discipline. Lord Heseltine has made clear it is his aim to prevent Brexit at all costs, including the sabotage of his own party and nation.

"The Conservative Party must therefore withdraw the whip and end the inevitable continuation of his sniping from inside the tent."

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski said: "His indifference towards hard-working new Conservative MPs who have won marginal seats against all odds at the last election, especially in Scotland, is breathtaking.

"His lack of respect and loyalty towards the Conservative Party is deeply regrettable."

Mr Heseltine made his latest comments about Brexit in an interview with The Limehouse Podcast, which covers liberal politics.

"We have survived Labour governments before. Their damage tends to be short-term and capable of rectification," he said.

"Brexit is not short-term and is not easily capable of rectification.

"There will be those who question whether the short-term pain justifies the avoidance of the long-term disaster." (© Daily Telegraph London)


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