Lord Heseltine has revealed he has never even met Theresa May, despite last night getting sacked by her for rebelling against her Brexit Bill.
The former Tory deputy prime minister lost his job as Government adviser after he joined 12 other Conservative peers who last night voted to give Parliament final approval on the deal the UK secures when quitting the EU.
Lord Heseltine was not a minister, but was brought in by David Cameron to advise him on a wide range of policy areas including the regeneration of deprived areas.
The veteran Tory peer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that he had continued to work for the government under May three or four days a week.
But he revealed he was not formally warned by Downing Street not to vote against the government whip on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
“I heard nothing from No. 10. I have had no relationship with No.10 since the new prime minister,” he said. “I’ve never met Theresa May.”
The 83-year-old was summoned by the Lords chief whip to be fired while he was having dinner with his wife after the vote. “I haven’t heard from No.10. I suppose they will get round to it,” he said.
“I believe the referendum result is the most disastrous peace time result we have seen in this country,” the pro-Remain Lord Heseltine said.
“The point comes in life when you have to do what you believe to be right, saying somehow or another parliament couldn’t have enshrined in the statue, a commitment to involve parliament, the sovereign body of our country, was too much for me.”
Lord Heseltine dismissed the suggestion he should keep quiet about his pro-EU views given the country had voted for Brexit.
“Is the mandate of the referendum for all time?” he asked. “Nigel Farage was saying, before the result, when he thought he was going to lose, there would need to be another referendum.
“I know these Brexiteers backwards. I have lived with them in government for many years, they never give up. Why is it alright to go on fighting whatever the opinion happened to be… why shouldn’t people like me argue in the other camp?”
Last night’s vote against the government by peers represented May’s second defeat in the House of Lords over Brexit.
During the debate, Lord Heseltine said Parliament should be “the ultimate custodian of our national sovereignty”, suggesting MPs should get a veto on Brexit. He said:
“I do not accept that the mandate for Brexit runs for all time and in all circumstances. The 48 per cent have the same right to be heard as those who voted for Brexit.”
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.”