Theresa May sacks Michael Heseltine over Brexit rebellion

Sacked: Theresa May sacked Michael Heseltine as a Government advisor. (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
Sacked: Theresa May sacked Michael Heseltine as a Government advisor. (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
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Former cabinet minister Lord Heseltine has been sacked as a Government adviser after rebelling over Brexit.

The Tory grandee backed demands for a “meaningful” vote on the final divorce deal after warning that quitting the European Union was the “most momentous peacetime decision of our time”.

He was later told that Prime Minister Theresa May was firing him from his roles advising the Government on a number of areas, including its industrial strategy.

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The defiant peer said he was sorry the Government would lose his expertise and insisted Britain’s future was tied to the EU.

Lord Heseltine said he was forced to abandon dinner with his wife to receive his marching orders from chief whip Lord Taylor of Holbeach after the vote and debate on the Brexit Bill, in which he warned that quitting the European Union was the “most momentous peacetime decision of our time”.

The former deputy prime minister said he knew there could be consequences if he rebelled but he was not warned that he could lose his roles advising the Government on a number of areas, including its industrial strategy.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he went on: “I heard nothing from Number 10, I’ve had no relationship with Number 10 since the new Prime Minister (Mrs May).

“But I’m not complaining, I was getting on with the job that I was doing.”

He refused to comment on suggestions that his sacking was designed to intimidate Tory MPs who are considering rebelling when the “meaningful vote” amendment comes back to the Commons, expected on Monday.

“I’ve never met Theresa May and so I can’t make a judgment. She’s doing very well in the post, public opinion approves of what she is doing, and so I’m not going to get involved in a sort of tit-tat of personalities,” he said.

“My preoccupation has been from the very beginning that I believe that the referendum result is the most disastrous peacetime result that we’ve seen in this country.”

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The peer was asked to help the Government with plans to restore deprived estates under David Cameron and was also involved with developing proposals for east London’s future with George Osborne.

As well as advice on Swansea’s city deal he has also worked with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and has been a national infrastructure commissioner.

Lord Heseltine was one of 366 peers who inflicted a second defeat on the Government’s Brexit Bill.

After three hours of heated exchanges, the House of Lords backed amending the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by a majority of 98.

Brexit Secretary David Davis accused peers of trying to “frustrate” Britain’s exit from the European Union and insisted the Government intends to overturn the result.

He said: “It is disappointing that the House of Lords has chosen to make further changes to a Bill that the Commons passed without amendment.

“It has a straightforward purpose - to enact the referendum result and allow the Government to get on with negotiating a new partnership with the EU.

“It is clear that some in the Lords would seek to frustrate that process, and it is the Government’s intention to ensure that does not happen. We will now aim to overturn these amendments in the House of Commons.”