Lord Heseltine says Boris Johnson has "ripped the Tory party apart"
Heseltine says Boris Johnson “must live with the shame of what he has done”
Boris Johnson and David Cameron - credit: PA
Lord Heseltine has accused Boris Johnson of having “ripped apart” the Conservative party, with the former Deputy Prime Minister saying “he must live with the shame of what he has done”.
Johnson, who been widely expected to run for the Tory leadership after helping to lead the Leave campaign to win in the EU referendum, pulled out of the race this morning.
The U-turn drew a stinging response from Heseltine, who accused Johnson of creating the “the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime”, and then walking away.
He said: “I have never seen anything like it. He’s ripped the Tory party apart, he has created the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime in my life. He has knocked billions off the value of the savings of the British people.
“He’s like a general who marches his army to the sound of the guns and the moment he sees the battleground he abandons it.
“I have never seen anything like it and he must be answerable for the consequences. But the pain of it will be felt by all of us and if it doesn’t get resolved shortly, by a generation to come yet.”
Heseltine added: “This is a free society; there’s no question of punishment. He must live with the shame of what he’s done.”
Heseltine, who challenged Margaret Thatcher for the Conservative leadership in 1990 criticised the way Johnson’s approach to the referendum campaign.
The Tory peer went on to dismiss the contribution of other pro-Leave voices like Michael Gove, who declared his candidacy today.
He said: “Boris Johnson is the one who won the referendum. Without him it would not have happened. Without him there would be none of this uncertainty, and he’s abandoned the field.
“Quite interesting, actually, one of the allegations upon which the referendum was conducted is that there is an elite group in this country who are out of touch. Well, it’s that elite group that now has to pick up the pieces of Britain’s self-interest while Boris Johnson abandons any sense of responsibility for what he’s done.”
Heseltine served in Margaret Thatcher and John Major’s cabinets.
During the referendum campaign he said Johnson’s “obscene” comments had jeopardised his chances of ever becoming Conservative leader.