Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Michael Heseltine says a Jeremy Corbyn government would be less damaging for Britain than Brexit

The ex-deputy prime minister warned that remain-backing Tory voters could still desert Theresa May

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 27 December 2017 09:09 GMT
Michael Heseltine: A Jeremy Corbyn government would be less damaging for Britain than Brexit

Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine has said a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would be less detrimental for Britain that Brexit.

Lord Heseltine said he believed that if there was any damage done by Mr Corbyn then it would be short-lived, but that EU withdrawal could cause irreversible harm.

He warned there are many voters currently supporting Theresa May who do not back Brexit, and who may desert her as withdrawal comes closer.

His words sparked an immediate backlash as the internal Tory Brexit row re-ignited after the Christmas break.

Speaking on the Limehouse podcast, he said: “Well, we have survived Labour governments before.

“Their damage tends to be short-term and capable of rectification. Brexit is not short-term and is not easily capable of rectification.

“There will be those who question whether the short-term pain justifies the avoidance of the long-term disaster.”

The ex-deputy prime minister argued that public opinion is shifting on Brexit, with the polls showing a trend towards remain as negotiations continue.

Gaming Labour’s strategy, he said Mr Corbyn’s party may respond by distancing itself from Brexit, leaving the Tories to face the backlash.

He said: “When that happens, the Labour party will move, and the present government will be left holding the baby.

“But then you have got to realise the present government is supported by large numbers of people as opposed to Brexit as I am. How long will they remain within the tribe and loyal to the party?”

The senior Peer recently wrote for The Independent claiming that Tory MPs backing a hard Brexit were betraying the achievements of Conservative Governments going back 50 years.

He also urged those Tory MPs pushing for Ms May to change her approach to stick to their guns.

But Eurosceptic Conservatives reacted furiously to his most recent remarks, with backbencher Nigel Evans telling The Sun: "Only a euro fanatic of the pedigree of Michael Heseltine could believe that a Venezuela loving Corbyn Government would be preferable to leaving his beloved EU.

“A run on the pound and a return to the damaging state controlled industries of the 60s would inflict immense damage on the UK.

“It’s about time Tarzan hung up his loin cloth and got behind Theresa May who is delivering what the UK voted for and is doing it rather well without irrelevant interventions of the Jurassic Park era.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in