’There is the elephant in the room, which is Brexit. And Brexit is a disaster‘
“Brexit is a disaster and every day it becomes more clear that it’s a disaster,” Lord Heseltine said.
“There are divisions within the Conservative Party, which frankly – and I don’t like the idea – a lost election might do something to heal.”
Speaking to LBC Radio, the peer, who was stripped of the Tory whip by Mr Johnson in 2019 for his pro-EU stance, said the UK badly needed to become “a major respected player” in Europe again.
He pointed to the huge problems caused by the hard Brexit deal, including a loss of investment and workers and exclusion from the Horizon science collaboration project.
Pointing to the UK’s past influence in Europe, Lord Heseltine said: “The Conservatives have abandoned that with awful economic consequences.”
He added: “A million Europeans have gone home. You want to know why we got queues and shortages? That is an important part of it.”
The tearing up of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the renewed threat of Scottish independence “all add up to a long term infliction of harm on the British economy,” Lord Heseltine said.
The comments come after Chris Patten, the former Tory chairman, called another election victory for his party a “disaster” that would break up the United Kingdom.
The Conservatives, under Mr Johnson, is no longer conservative but an English Nationalist party, he warned.
Meanwhile, a defiant Mr Johnson turned on Conservative opponents who are demanding he resign, telling them their criticism “doesn’t matter” and they have no policy ideas.
Speaking in Rwanda, he refused to accept he “personally contributed” to the byelection defeats through his lawbreaking behaviour in the Partygate scandal.
And he made clear he will not undergo “sort of psychological transformation” to change his character, saying: “I think our listeners will know that’s not going to happen.”
The prime minister claimed the “only argument of substance” made by any of his critics was “for us to go back into the EU single market”.
And he told BBC Radio 4: “As a leader you have to try to distinguish between criticism that really matters and the criticism that doesn’t matter.”