Michael Heseltine to vote Lib Dem to stop Brexit

If you have voted one way for almost 70 years, it’s hard to do anything differently. But former Tory Cabinet Minister Michael Heseltine is doing just that on Thursday.

His passionate internationalism and support of the European Union means that he will be supporting the Liberal Democrats.

Heseltine famously fell out with Margaret Thatcher over Europe and it was his challenge that led to her downfall in another Tory fight over Europe.

From the Observer:

In an article for the Sunday Times, he said: “The reason for my experiment with the Lib Dems is, of course, the government’s position on Brexit.

“I cannot, with a clear conscience, vote for my party when it is myopically focused on forcing through the biggest act of economic self-harm ever undertaken by a democratic government.”

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  • I’ve always had a soft spot if Tarzan and it’s refreshing to see someone if his stature come out and back a different party to the one they’ve always believed in. I’d like to think that if Boris or some other right wing nut job wins the Tory leadership contest that the Tigs and the left of the Tory party feel they can get behind the Lib Dem’s

  • Richard Underhill 19th May '19 - 1:48pm

    Heseltine said:
    “I think [signing Article 50] is the worst decision we’ve made since the war.
    I am appalled by people who pretend to regret the decline in standards of public life and only exacerbate them.
    The bigotry of the editor of the Daily Mail, coupled with that of Nigel Farage, have been among the most potent driving forces of this tragedy.
    I had only been in parliament a year when I voted twice against my party on race issues. The feeling that Enoch Powell’s speech evoked was far more divisive than anything in Britain since.
    Referenda seldom reflect the issue under discussion. This one was no exception. People didn’t like eight years of frozen living standards and they were anxious about immigration. They were looking for a scapegoat and Europe was the convenient candidate.
    I believe the best of times are yet to come.”

  • John Marriott 19th May '19 - 2:06pm

    As I reported on another thread today, Hezza has ‘previous’ as I believe he stood as a ‘National Liberal’ in the 1959 General Election, before that ‘party’ finally merged with the Tories.

    Good on him, I say!

  • Heseltine has flagged up the seriousness of the current crisis forty-five years after another former Conservative minister, Enoch Powell, made an anti-Europe call to vote Labour. That’s the measure of the unprecedented nature of politics in 2019.

  • @John Marriott

    Heseltine did mention standing as a “Conservative and National Liberal”, I think, in a recent interview but it was I think more a function of the constituency (Gower) that he stood in. The Conservatives and National Liberals (formerly Liberal Nationals) merged at a constituency level in 1947. The description was used in Gower where Heseltine stood in 1959 by different candidates immediately preceding and after him. The label was thought useful for some constituencies in more Liberal areas – especially probably Wales and the West Country. Heseltine did not use the label when he stood in Coventry North John Nott, for example, stood under the label in St Ives as late as 1974 (although the “party” at a national level had been wound up in 1968 and the money given to the Conservatives). (And it was of course before PPERA introduce any constraints on how you described yourself on the ballot paper).

    I don’t think that Heseltine would be described as a “wet” of the Thatcher years or especially liberal even if he did have his famous bust-up with her.

    I think that it is of significance that the “triumvirate” at the head of the Conservative party in the ’90s – Heseltine, John Major and Ken Clarke all are against Brexit and essentially in favour of a referendum (Clarke isn’t but didn’t vote, I believe, in favour of triggering Article 50) and increasingly out of tune with the party and the ERG wing in particular.

    All three are relatively sensible, moderate Tories who want businesses to thrive (Heseltine is, of course, a successful businessman himself) and we should be making more of that. There is now a large constituency of moderate Tories, especially in the Home Counties that could back us – and indeed are.



  • Sue Sutherland 20th May '19 - 10:49am

    I’m pleased that Michael Heseltine is voting Lib Dem because of Brexit because it may persuade some Tories who are now thinking “just get on with it” to do the same. However, he himself is part of the reason we find ourselves in this mess. The economic well being he values has not been shared fairly, leaving people open to being brainwashed by the Tory press into blaming the EU and immigration for all their woes. He was part of the “trickle down” economic policy making Thatcher government who began the attack on public services.
    Don’t let’s get carried away.

  • John McHugo 20th May '19 - 8:47pm

    Delighted the Tory whips have suspended him! That’ll give the fact he is voting for the Lib Dems to stop Brexit extra publicity!

  • If f the Conservatives were to disappear tomorrow then arguably a new Liberal Party would be their logical replacement on the centre right. Remember if you go back far enough the Whigs and then Liberals were to the right of the Tories.

  • Can we keep him?

  • Christian:

    “Remember if you go back far enough the Whigs and then Liberals were to the right of the Tories.”

    How so? Liberals were always the reformist party to the Tories’ conservatism (hence the party’s name). And the terms “left” and “right” originated from where members of the French Estates-General (i.e. Parliament) of 1789 sat: Royalists on the right, Republicans on the left.

  • Alex Macfie – probably because the Liberals during the 19th century followed laissez-faire belief in economic policy-making, which is right-wing these days but not right-wing during the 1850s-1870s.

  • Jayne Mansfield 22nd May '19 - 8:38am

    @ Sue Sutherland,
    Quite so.

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