Conservative MPs have called for Lord Heseltine to be sacked from his role as a government advisor after he vowed to lead a rebellion on Brexit.
The former Deputy Prime Minister has said he is not seeking “confrontation” with the Government over Britain’s departure from the European Union, but has insisted that Parliament must have a final say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations before Britain is pulled out of the bloc.
“The outcome of Brexit will have to be confirmed by Parliament,” Lord Heseltine has written in the Mail on Sunday. “It will also have to pass in 27 national European parliaments, several sub-national parliaments and the European Parliament. It was perhaps unwise for our Government to suppose that our Parliament should be excluded where all others were included.
“I will vote in the House of Lords to ensure that position is legally intact. This is not a confrontation with the Government which has already made such a commitment. It is – put simply – a decision to ensure that the Commons has the chance to define its role in the exercise of its authority over what most people regard as the defining issue of our time.”
He added: “The fightback starts here.”
Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, told The Telegraph: “It is difficult to see how he can stay on as an advisor to a Secretary of State when he is leading a rebellion against Government policy.
“Lord Heseltine is a much-respected beast of the Conservative Party, but the political environment has changed and we all know what happens to big beast who can’t adapt – they become extinct.”
Phillip Davies MP added: “Any Conservative parliamentarian who holds any type of role with the Government is expected to vote with the Government.
“If Lord Heseltine is going to rebel and encourage others to do so, then his role in DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) becomes untenable and if he doesn’t resign he must be sacked.”
A Bill handing the Prime Minister Theresa May permission to invoke Article 50 to spark the Brexit process was passed unaltered by the House of Commons at the start of the month. But the Lords, in which the Conservatives are in the minority, are vying to make amendments, including the requirement to ratify the negotiations in Parliament.
A Labour source in the Lords predicted that the party “would be likely to win handsomely” and defeat the Government on the issue. They are also expected to force the Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals already in the UK – a position which the government wants to hold in reserve as a negotiating tool.
A vote on the Bill is expected during the report stage on 7 March.