The former deputy leader of the Conservative Party said “there is no way” the Prime Minister will change his stance on Brexit, or become any less stubborn about remaining in office, as a consequence of the two byelection losses in Wakefield, and Tiverton and Honiton. He forecasted a bleak future for the UK, suggesting Britain’s “standing in the world” would become a “major issue” as the PM loses the respect of his peers and electorate but remains intransigent in the face of calls for his resignation.
Lord Heseltine told Sky News: “There is no doubt at all that the buck stops here and [Boris] is the man that got Brexit done, actually he got the British people done as a consequence of Brexit.
“There is no way that Boris is actually going to change his stance on Brexit so we’re just heading for more and more trouble.
“More and more conflict. More and more difficulties in Ireland, in Scotland, and in Britain’s standing in the world.
“So, there is no doubt at all that Boris is associated with that major issue.
“But I’m afraid what’s even more toxic, and associated with it, are the lies.
“The lies that persuaded people to vote for Brexit. The lies about Partygate.
“All these things are now associated with the name of the Prime Minister.
“So, I don’t think, either of his own volition or in any other way, he is going to change.”
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The Prime Minister, who is currently in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, vowed to “keep going” today.
Mr Johnson said, from the Rwandan capital of Kigali: “It’s absolutely true we’ve had some tough by-election results. They’ve been, I think, a reflection of a lot of things, but we’ve got to recognise voters are going through a tough time at the moment.
“I think, as a Government, I’ve got to listen to what people are saying – in particular to the difficulties people are facing over the cost of living, which, I think, for most people is the number one issue.
“We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do and we certainly will – we will keep going, addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.”
His comments followed not only the two defeats at byelections but the subsequent resignation of Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden.
And an array of former Conservative leaders, including Lord Heseltine, have urged the PM to resign.
Former Conservative leader Michael Howard, who led the Tories between 2003 and 2005, told the PM to resign for the good of the party today.
Mr Howard urged the Cabinet to consider resigning, as Conservative MPs voiced their fears of losing their seats at the next general election under the Prime Minister’s leadership.
He said: “The party and more importantly, the country would be better off under new leadership. Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.”
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