LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May has sacked Lord Heseltine from five government roles after he voted against the government on Brexit.
The life-long Europhile and former trade secretary under Margaret Thatcher, used a House of Lords speech on Tuesday to savage the government’s three leading Brexiteers and to call for a “fightback” against Brexit.
“My own personal decision has been clearly established since I joined the Conservative party in 1951,” he said.
“I deeply regret the outcome of the [EU] referendum.”
He added that while was right for May to have appointed three leading Brexiteers — Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox — to lead Brexit negotiations, he had “naively” expected that they would know what they were doing.
“I also took the view, perhaps naively, that as campaigners for Brexit it was not unreasonable to assume that they might have answers to the numerous issues that we face,” he said.
He then declared that the “fightback [against Brexit] starts here.”
Heseltine went on to vote against the government on a crucial vote on whether there should be a “meaningful vote” on the outcome of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations.
The government suffered a huge defeat in the Lords on the issue last night when Heseltine joined more than a dozen Tory rebels on the issue.
Heseltine told the Today programme on Wednesday that he had not been warned against voting against the government. “I have had no relationship with Number 10 since the new prime minister,” he said.
Explaining his decision to rebel, he added that: “The referendum result is the most disastrous peacetime result we have seen” and “you have to do what you believe to be right.”
May’s decision to sack Heseltine from several advisory roles will be seen as a warning to growing numbers of Conservative MPs currently considering rebelling on the issue when it returns to the Commons next week.
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