Heseltine launches attack on 'Little Englander' Hague

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Michael Heseltine attacked William Hague's right-wing populism yesterday, accusing him of "nationalist xenophobia" and branding him a "Little Englander".

Michael Heseltine attacked William Hague's right-wing populism yesterday, accusing him of "nationalist xenophobia" and branding him a "Little Englander".

In his strongest criticism of the Tory leader, Mr Heseltine attacked his policy on race and immigration and the whole direction of the Conservative Party. He likened the party to the Poujadists, a 1950s right-wing French party launched by shopkeepers and farmers.

"It's the nationalist flavour of it all, the Little Englander Poujade lower-middle-class self-enrichment," Mr Heseltine told The Spectator. "It all has an image. When you add to that the issues of race and immigration, they all seem of a kind."

The former deputy prime minister challenged Mr Hague's decision to put Europe at the heart of the party's general election campaign. "I don't believe there are votes to be won on any scale over Europe. We now have a Tory party more Eurosceptic than at any time in its history."

Mr Heseltine seemed to suggest Britain would eventually become part of a federal Europe. "Can you name the 12 kingdoms of England?" he asked. He had concluded that "this is as irreversible and unstoppable a process as anything in politics ever is ... You have to ask yourself, where does Britain's interest lie?"

He said the Tory "schism"over Europe was symbolised by the absence of Kenneth Clarke, the pro-EU former Chancellor, from the Shadow Cabinet. Launching his autobiography, Life In The Jungle, in London yesterday, Mr Heseltine said it was "extraordinary" that Mr Clarke was not a leading Tory frontbencher.

He urged Mr Hague to give his frontbenchers the freedom to express personal views on Europe instead of excluding Europhiles from his team.

Labour's divisions over the European single currency surfaced yesterday when Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union and a close ally of the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, criticised the ministers and union leaders pressing for early British entry. "I don't understand those who are running down the pound in this debate. There's nothing wrong with the pound. It is the euro that is the problem," he said.

Michael Portillo, the shadow Chancellor, said: "Bill Morris is absolutely right to be sceptical about the merits of the euro and to stand apart from Tony Blair's propaganda campaign to scrap the pound."

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