Lord Heseltine, the former Cabinet minister sacked as a Government adviser after speaking in favour of amendments to the Article 50 bill, has sent a stinging parting shot to Theresa May.
The one-time Tory “big beast” told the Prime Minister that the difference between them was that she had changed her mind on Brexit, but he had not.
The Conservative peer also accused her of ignoring an agreement that the Brexit argument was so important that MPs and peers should be free to speak their mind on Europe.
In a letter sent on Thursday, in reply to a letter from Mrs May that removed him as a Government adviser, Lord Heseltine told the Prime Minister: “I have repeatedly said you have every right to end my relationship with the government. The simple fact remains that you have changed your mind since the excellent speech you made in the Referendum campaign arguing that we should remain in the European Union. I have not.”
He also said: “You say in your letter that I will understand the necessity to end [the] relationship. Here we disagree.
“In the referendum campaign it was recognised that so deeply held and so divided were the views on both sides that members of the Cabinet and other ministers were free to argue and vote against the government’s European policy without sanction.”
Earlier this month, the Europhile Tory peer was stripped of his unpaid work, which included advising the Government on industrial regeneration, after backing a House of Lords amendment which would have forced Mrs May to offer MPs a meaningful vote on the EU withdrawal deal she agrees with Brussels.
After Downing Street indicated that Mrs May will wait as long as two weeks after the passage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act before triggering Article 50, Lord Heseltine said: "The urgency about which we heard so much at the time seems in the event somewhat diminished."
He said his rebel vote was designed "to give the House of Commons a second chance to enshrine in law a commitment you yourself had already given to allow Parliament a vote on any Brexit deal".