Former deputy PM criticises Boris Johnson for pursuing Brexit as the economy struggles

Lord Heseltine speaks to Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

Lord Heseltine speaks to Sky News. Photograph: Sky. - Credit: Archant

Former Tory deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has criticised Boris Johnson's economic response to the coronavirus, particularly as he pursues Brexit at the same time.

Lord Heseltine told Sky News that it was 'frightening' people thought the issue of the UK's withdrawal from the EU had 'gone away'.

He told Sky News: 'Yes and that is what is so frightening, that people think it has gone away. It hasn't gone away.

'We were promised a deal, we haven't got a deal. We were told of wonderful opportunities for new deals across the world, well does anyone seriously think that President Trump in the dying days his first presidency is going to be making great concessions to overseas interests such as Britain's?

'So the whole thing is hanging by a thread and you're quite right it has gone from the headlines but it hasn't gone from the investment decisions of countless British people who are uncertain about what is going to happen and until they are certain aren't going make decisions and therefore jobs are lost.'

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Heseltine said he was disappointed with the government's economic response so far.

He said: 'What we have is a twin crisis, which is the crisis of the corona epidemic... and it is over with the crisis of Brexit.

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'It is a crisis of unprecedented scale and it is going to get worse.

'So, the question really is how is the government responding, how should it respond?

'And I have to say I was deeply disappointed in the speech the prime minister made in Dudley.

'It was simply the sort of speech with a lot of proposals which were remarkably similar to what all governments have done faced with rising unemployment.

'They announce packets of money in housing and transport and repairs for the health service... but they lack the one thing that is essential, and that is the local enthusiasm, energy and enterprise.'

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