Lord Heseltine has had the Conservative whip suspended after saying he would vote Liberal Democrat in this week’s European elections, the party has said.
The Tory grandee and former deputy prime minister, who sits in the upper chamber of parliament, was summoned to a meeting with the party’s chief whip in the Lords on Monday.
“Lord Heseltine has given more than half a century of service to the Conservative party, and his longstanding and sincerely held views on Europe are well understood,” a party spokesperson said after the meeting.
“But, with his long experience, he will know that publicly endorsing the candidates of 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.”
Heseltine, a lifelong pro-European, said he would “experiment” with voting Lib Dem on Thursday because of the government’s Brexit policy.
The peer used a Sunday Times article to explain the decision. “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 wrote.