Lord Heseltine: Sacked Tory grandee reveals he has never met Theresa May despite being government adviser

The Peer lost his job after defying Ms May in Lords Brexit vote

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 08 March 2017 09:25
Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine
Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine

Sacked Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has revealed he has never met Theresa May despite having been a government adviser since the Prime Minister took office.

The ex-Conservative cabinet minister said he had “no relationship” with Downing Street and had been getting on with his job of promoting the devolution agenda.

Lord Heseltine was sacked after voting for and helping to pass a plan to give Parliament, and not Downing Street, the final say over Brexit, inflicting a humiliating defeat on Ms May.

In an interview he said the British public should understand that every other Parliament of every European Union nation would vote on the Brexit agreement, but that British MPs are being blocked from doing so.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he told how he had been at dinner with his wife when he received a text summoning him to a meeting with the Lords Chief Whip.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said he was given no warning he would lose his job, given to him by David Cameron, but accepted that it had been widely speculated upon in the press and that some Tories had called for it.

He said: “I heard nothing from Number 10. Indeed I’ve had no relationship with Number 10 since the new Prime Minister.

“I’m not complaining I was getting on with the job that I was doing.”

Theresa May suffers second defeat in Lords over Brexit

Lord Heseltine was instrumental in bringing down Margaret Thatcher who, like the current Prime Minister, had a reputation for centralising power in her own office. Ms May’s administration has been dogged by claims that the Prime Minister only deals with a small inner circle of trusted aides.

He added: “I’ve never met Theresa May and so I can’t make a judgement. She’s doing very well in the polls, public opinion approves of what she’s doing, so I’m not going to get involved in a tick-tack of personalities.”

Downing Street later questioned Lord Heseltine's claim, with the Prime Minister's spokesman saying: "My understanding is that the PM has met Lord Heseltine."

On Tuesday Labour, Liberal Democrat and crossbench Lords joined forces with Tory rebels, including Lord Heseltine, to push through what has come to be called the “meaningful vote” amendment to the Article 50 Bill, by 366 to 268 votes.

The proposal, which still needs approval in the Commons to be written into statute, would force Ms May to seek Parliament’s backing for any withdrawal deal she agrees with the EU, or to pull Britain out of the EU with no deal at all.

Lord Heseltine said he had been meticulous in not talking to the press up to now, but said “the point comes in life when you have to do what you believe to be right.”

He said: “I just don’t think people really understand – every European Parliament is going to have to ratify any new deal – all the nation states of Europe are all going to have to do it.

“The idea that we are not going to have the right to do that in our Parliament and influence that...the Prime Minister has said there will be a process, but why can’t it be in the statute? Nobody knows what’s going to happen, so make it certain.”

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