Don't 'rub our noses in it' with 'divisive' Brexit celebrations, top Remainer Lord Heseltine warns Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson must not rub Remainers' "noses in it" with a raft of "unwise" celebrations on Brexit day, Lord Heseltine has warned.
The Tory peer, a longstanding campaigner for Britain to stay in the European Union, cautioned the Prime Minister against "celebrating" the defeat of his political opponents when the UK leaves the bloc at the end of January.
Mr Johnson has called on the country to "heal past divisions" over Brexit and confirmed plans for government buildings to be lit up in red, white and blue on Friday.
A light display including a countdown clock will also take place at Downing Street, while Chancellor Sajid Javid has confirmed that millions of commemorative 50p coins will be released.
The Prime Minister said: "No matter how you voted in 2016, it is the time to look ahead with confidence to the global, trail-blazing country we will become over the next decade and heal past divisions.
"That is what I will be doing on 31 January and I urge everyone across the UK to do the same."
But Lord Heseltine told The Observer: "Brexit is the most divisive issue of modern times. Those of us who fought to remain did so sincerely in the interests of our country and subsequent generations who we believe should be influential at the heart of Europe."
He added: "I think it is unwise of the Government to rub our noses in it by celebrating our defeat at this hour, whilst talking about unifying the country."
Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey also joined in the criticism, and warned that the planned celebrations could prove divisive.
"The prime minister should be seeking to pull the country together, not gloat with an expensive party on the public purse," he said.
The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford meanwhile told the paper: "It grieves me that we should be leaving the greatest postwar peace project ever created. That is not something we should be celebrating."
The Government's plans to mark Brexit day come after the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - formalising Britain's break with the EU - received Royal Assent after clearing its final parliamentary hurdle on Wednesday evening.