'They can't take away my integrity' - Heseltine has Tory whip suspended for backing Lib Dems

PUBLISHED: 09:01 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 21 May 2019

Lord Heseltine on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

Lord Heseltine on Sky News. Photograph: Sky.

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Conservative peer and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has had the Conservative whip suspended after saying he would vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European election.

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The pro-EU politician said he would "experiment" with voting Lib Dem because of the government's Brexit policy.

The peer used a Sunday Times article to explain his decision to vote Lib Dem in the European contest.

"I cannot, with a clear conscience, vote for my party when it is myopically focused on forcing through the biggest act of economic self-harm ever undertaken by a democratic government," he said.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said: "Lord Heseltine has given more than half a century of service to the Conservative Party and his long-standing and sincerely held views on Europe are well understood.

"But, with his long experience, he will know that publicly endorsing the candidates of an another party is not compatible with taking the Conservative whip in parliament.

"As a result, the Chief Whip in the House of Lords has informed Lord Heseltine that he will have the Conservative whip suspended.

"This will be reviewed if he is willing to support Conservative candidates at future elections."

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Speaking before the Tory announcement, Lord Heseltine was asked what losing the whip would mean to him.

He told Sky News: "Well, the sun will come up tomorrow morning."

He added: "They can take away the whip, but they cannot take away my integrity, or my convictions, or my experience."

Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames condemned the move against Lord Heseltine, telling Channel 4 News: "I think that's a really stupid, bovine thing to do.

"I think it is a very silly thing to do."

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Sir Nicholas said he would have a "very strong word" about the situation at a meeting with the chief whip.

Referring to the meeting, Sir Nicholas said: "I am going to have a full and frank exchange of views, but without coffee in his case."

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