Tories set to lose the next election due to Brexit splits - Lord Heseltine
The Conservatives are on track to lose the next election because of the rift within the party over Brexit, Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has warned.
The former deputy prime minister said Jeremy Corbyn was “no longer non-electable” after Labour’s gains in the 8 June poll.
Predicting another general election within two years, the peer said the Conservatives needed “now and urgently” to bring forward new policies if they were to avoid a Labour-led government.
The comments come after a string of stories in the weekend newspapers about comments made by Chancellor Philip Hammond at last week's Cabinet meeting.
Mr Hammond attributed the negative briefing to unhappiness among some of his Brexiteer colleagues about his stance on how the UK should leave the European Union.
No 10 has said Theresa May will tomorrow tell her top team to stop attacking each other in the press.
But Lord Heseltine – one of the most outspoken pro-EU voices in the Tory ranks – said that there was little hope of the leaks ending as long as Brexit was a live issue.
He told Sky News: “My anxiety is that it has been going on for so long, it’s so deeply ingrained in the bitterness of the Brexit debate, that it’s very difficult to see how it can be stopped while Brexit is the serious agenda of the Conservative party.”
He also warned that the outcome of the splits would be a defeat at the next general election.
“They’ve gone on and on and they’ve now got to the point where they have divided the Conservative party. And there’s only one conclusion of that, and we will lose an election – which to me is a very worrying thought,” Lord Heseltine added.
“I think the lesson that came out of that last election is Corbyn is no longer a non-electable person. I find it difficult to believe but that’s what the conclusion has to be. I see Tony Blair is saying the same thing.
“The fact of the matter is that a re-run of the last election doesn’t look to me like it would prevent Jeremy Corbyn from winning just those extra seats he needs.
“So the Conservatives have got to have something in their pocket that they’ve done or said or believe in now to prepare public opinion for that very likely outcome of an election.”
The Conservative peer, who was sacked as a government adviser after rebelling against the Tory whip in the Lords over the Article 50 Bill, has predicted that Mrs May will not be in charge by the time of the next election.