Brexit was bound to fail and has - we must now return to the centre of Europe, Lord Heseltine says

Lord Heseltine said it is time to stop ‘hiding from the damage’ caused by Brexit

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 18 June 2023 14:24 BST
'Boris Johnson told a pack of lies': Lord Heseltine launches scathing attack on former PM

Lord Heseltine has called for Britain to “recreate our position at the centre of Europe” after the failure of Brexit.

The Tory grandee accused political leaders of hiding from the damage being caused by the UK leaving the EU.

The former deputy prime minister under John Major said the time has come “for the British people to be told the truth”.

Writing for The Independent, Lord Heseltine laid bare the failings of Brexit, from a shortage of skilled workers holding back economic growth to trade deals with Australia and New Zealand which will be “so damaging for farmers”.

In the wake of Boris Johnson quitting in disgrace over Partygate, he felt “the mood is changing”.

“There is a growing awareness of the deception that has taken place and the lies that underpinned it,” Lord Heseltine writes.

He has been a fervent anti-Brexit campaigner and has previously called for Remain backers to “never give up” trying to rejoin the EU.

But his intervention comes as polls show regret among Leave voters sits at a record high, with more voters than ever considering Brexit a failure.

A recent YouGov poll found just a fifth of Leave supporters said Brexit had been a success.

Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood has called on the government to pursue closer ties with Europe, suggesting that rejoining the single market could ease the cost of living crisis.

Boris Johnson quit as MP ahead of the damning Partygate report

On Saturday he said the UK is “going to need a better Brexit deal”. “Increasingly, everyone knows this, but dare not address it,” Mr Ellwood said.

In a damning indictment of Brexit, Lord Heseltine said the project was “bound to fail” from the outset.

“The Brexit case from the outset was never based on reasoned arguments or detailed policies,” he said. “The diet was one of slogans interwoven with the familiar targets of the mob: the civil service, foreigners, immigrants, [and] Brussels.

“The time to recreate our position at the centre of Europe has arrived.”

Mr Johnson’s downfall was sealed by a highly critical report that found he deliberately lied and lied again to parliament over Partygate.

In a sensational verdict this week, a cross-party group of MPs said they would have recommended a 90-day suspension had he not already quit the Commons to spite their sanction.

The committee also ruled that the former prime minister should face the humiliation of being stripped of a Commons pass offered to former MPs.

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