01/07/2014 05:37 BST | Updated 01/07/2014 05:59 BST

British Workers 'Don't Get Up Early Enough,' Says Lord Heseltine

David Jones/PA Archive
Lord Heseltine speaks at the launch of the Greater Birmingham Project, in Birmingham.

The productivity gap between the UK and other countries is largely down the laziness of British workers, former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has said.

Heseltine told The Times on Tuesday the economy was suffering from a bad attitude to work. "We don’t get up early enough, we don’t work hard enough, we’re not ambitious enough," he said.

But the 81-year-old veteran politician said he was not one of those who avoided hard work. "Slowing down is not within my gift. One day someone will tap me on the shoulder,” he said.

Last year Heseltine produced a report for the government on how to devolve power to the English regions and boost the economies of cities outside London.

In a separate interview, Heseltine told Total Politics that his old colleague from John Major years should not be fired by David Cameron in the upcoming reshuffle.

"Ken is a giant figure and a personal friend. We have many things we believe in together. But I can't see life without Ken. It doesn't sound credible to me," he said.

Clarke is widely believed to be vulnerable to losing his seat around the cabinet table this summer. He has not helped his case for keeping his job by making a series of comments that appeared to be at odds with the prime minister, including a claim that voters had "not yet felt any sense of recovery" in the economy.