Heseltine launches new attack on Euro-sceptics

Michael Heseltine yesterday ignored John Major's complaint that he had a "bellyful" of bickering over Europe, by mounting a fresh attack on the Euro-sceptics. And he accused Baroness Thatcher of trying to rewrite history.

Mr Major will this week celebrate the first anniversary of his decision to resign office and fight a leadership battle,, but there was no sign of a let-up in the backstabbing. The Deputy Prime Minister attacked Lady Thatcher for funding Bill Cash's Euro-sceptic think tank after Mr Major ordered it not to accept money from Sir James Goldsmith,whose Referendum Party is fielding candidates against the Tories. He said Baroness Thatcher had taken Britain deeper into Europe by signing the Single European Act, creating the single market. "You cannot re-write history."|

Mr Heseltine - in a clear sign that the pro-European wing of the Tory Party is determined to speak out - also fired a warning shot at Tory Euro- sceptics, such as Norman Lamont, the former chancellor, for "nibbling at the fringes" of moves to take Britain out of Europe.

They were damaging the Government and increasing the chances of Labour winning power, Mr Heseltine said on the BBC Breakfast with Frost programme.

Another pro-European, the former foreign minister Tristan Garel-Jones MP, criticised Mr Cash as a "pygmy".

The Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, meanwhile warned Britain's EU partners that the summit in Florence on Friday will be dominated by Britain's policy of non-cooperation if no deal is reached today over the beef crisis.

Mr Rifkind said: "If the beef issue is not resolved before next Friday, it quite properly and inevitably will dominate the summit."

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, will tell German leaders today that Labour will fight the forthcoming election as a pro-European party. He said in a series of German media interviews that Britain should play a constructive role "at the centre of Europe" and he attacked the anti-German propaganda over the beef war as "wrong and unhelpful".