Belfast Telegraph

EU Election 2019

I'm voting for Lib Dems, reveals Tory veteran Lord Heseltine

Experiment: Michael Heseltine
Experiment: Michael Heseltine

By Gavin Cordon

Tory grandee Michael Heseltine has said he will not be supporting the Conservatives in the European election, and will instead vote Liberal Democrat.

The former deputy Prime Minister and lifelong pro-European said the party has become "infected by the virus of extremism".

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."

His call for the Tories to reclaim the political centre ground was echoed by former Prime Minister Sir John Major.

He told The Sunday Times that the need for an inclusive Tory party is "greater than ever", and warned: "The middle ground of politics is empty."

Lord Heseltine made clear he would resist any attempt to force him out of the party over his stance on the election on May 23.

"I have no intention of being forced out - or resigning from - a party that has been such an important part of my life," he wrote.

"I will remain a member of my local association and, unless told otherwise, will continue to take the Conservative whip in the Lords."

He suggested the only alternative to a no-deal Brexit, or a "Marxist government" led by Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, would be for the Conservatives to put any final deal to the public in a second referendum.

He added: "With the prospect of a descent deeper into this darkness for our party, it is the only way to solve the riddle, to secure a stable majority in Parliament."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge told an audience they should vote for pro-Brussels candidates even if that means not supporting her party.

The paper said the Barking MP was asked if she agreed with a panellist who was against tactical voting and said all members should vote Labour, to which she replied: "I think taking whatever action you need, within your locality, that gives you the best likelihood of electing somebody who will be a pro-European MEP, I think is the way you should go."

When asked about the comments, Dame Margaret said: "I probably misspoke then.

"I would never advocate voting against the party."

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