Lord Heseltine: ‘We aren’t the traitors, we are the British patriots’

Lord Michael Heseltine speaks at Conservative party conference. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA.

Lord Michael Heseltine speaks at Conservative party conference. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Lord Heseltine is set to lead a rally in support of a People’s Vote ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Commons.

The former deputy prime minister will join politicians including Sir Vince Cable, Anna Soubry, Caroline Lucas and Mary Creagh.

He is expected to address the Brexiteers that believe a People’s Vote is “letting Britain down” and that call Remainers “traitors”.

He will say: “Let us make our position clear. We are the British patriots.

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“We want a Britain at the heart of Europe because we want the voice of Britain, the tolerance of Britain, the culture of Britain at the heart of Europe. We are proud of our Commonwealth and empire. Our voice is their voice in Europe.

“It is the Brexiteers who seek to belittle us, to undermine our influence, to slam windows, to close doors with the suggestion that our membership of the European community blunts our influence.

And echoing a young William Hague, Heseltine will make a cross-generational pitch, saying that his generation will not be the ones who will have to face the consequences of Brexit.

“In one of the most memorable speeches of my life the young William Hague, aged 16, pointed to an elderly Tory audience and declaimed. ‘You won’t be here.’ He warned his party not to ignore his generation.

“Let me repeat his warning. Let me paraphrase his words. ‘I certainly won’t be here.’ But neither will my generation. Those of a certain age who voted 70:30 to leave is rapidly being replaced by a younger generation who voted 70:30 to stay. The parents, the grandparent will have gone. The younger generation, they will be here. They will be here.

“They will never forgive us if we now exclude them from the corridors of European power. Offered a seat in an anteroom as others decide behind closed doors. Invited to submit their views in writing so others may decide behind closed doors. Trying to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the United Kingdom in competition with a European Union six times our size offering bigger, better deals behind closed doors.”

And in a final call to MPs to reject the deal he will say that no one knows what will happen in the next week.

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“Every news bulletin, every headline, every leak tells us of a government that has lost control. These are the first promising signs that a growing number of members of the House of Commons are prepared to assert the authority and sovereignty of that place.

“Our country’s future depends on their judgement and will. They must act in the national interest. Their conclusions must be put back to the people for their endorsement.”

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