Lifelong Tory Michael Heseltine backs Lib Dems in general election
There is absolutely no doubt that these are the most extraordinary times in UK politics, which is further highlighted by the story trending in today’s headlines.
It is no surprise that party grandees, of all political persuasions, are coming out of the woodwork to give their two pennyworth about the state of the nation but, and its a very big but, no one would ever have expected a former Deputy Prime Minister of the Conservative Party to advocate that voters chose the Liberal Democrat Party over the Tories on December 12.
Lord Michael Heseltine , a dyed in the wool blue, who served not only under John Major but was in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet made such a plea yesterday .
Of course it is Boris Johnson’s policy on Brexit that europhile Heseltine finds so offensive, describing it as, “utterly disastrous “ for the UK.
While this is in some ways old news, and little surprise, to the incumbent government, since the Tory whip was withdrawn from this peer when he advocated that voters chose Liberals over Conservatives in the May European elections.
However, it will be lending his weight to the argument that lifelong Tories should vote Lib Dem in a domestic election, which is a strong and powerful message.
There are three exceptions to his plea, and that is for the three MPs who also lost the Whip after disagreeing with Johnson, and are now standing as Independent candidates.
Anne Milton, David Gauke, and particularly Dominic Grieve, consistently trended in the headlines over the last parliament for challenging the PM’s position. The latter was instrumental in many motions that sought to prevent a no deal Brexit and eventually was kicked out for his treachery.
Of course these three politicians, and Michael Heseltine, will not panic Johnson although it really is not the best of PR when such a well-respected says, "I'm telling them (Tory voters) to vote for what they believe in and what the Conservative Party has stood for all my life and probably all theirs - and to put country first.”
He also warned voters very starkly that the prime minister was deluded if he thought he could bring back his deal, pass it and complete all EU business by the end of 2020. He warned those eager to vote for Johnson ‘to get Brexit done’, that it was not that simple.
He reflected that "We are in for another year of uncertainty and the possibility of a no-deal exit at the end of it. That is the reality of what we are facing if Mr Johnson gets an overall majority."
There is clearly no love lost between Johnson and Heseltine and while trying to politely undermine his case, the likes of Michael Gove will be politely trying to portray him as a dithering old fool.