Boris Johnson accused of ‘trashing money’ by Lord Heseltine

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Boris Johnson is “trashing money” by pledging cash for “very clear electoral targets”, according to a former Conservative deputy prime minister.

Lord Heseltine, a long-serving peer who sat in Margaret Thatcher and John Major’s cabinets, accused the new prime minister of “economic irresponsibility”.

He also claimed the economy has “stalled” over the government’s “obsession” with the “preposterous idea” that the UK should leave the EU with no deal on 31 October.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine also said it would be 'an abuse of the constitution' to leave the EU without parliamentary approval
Lord Heseltine attacks Dominic Cummings

Mr Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit “do or die” in under 90 days’ time and has told the civil service to make preparations for leaving without a withdrawal agreement its “top priority”.

His chief no-deal planner, Michael Gove, has called Brussels “wrong and sad” for refusing to negotiate a new divorce deal.

The prime minister has also unveiled a series of spending pledges, including recruiting 20,000 police officers and £1.8bn for the NHS.

Lord Heseltine, who lost the Tory whip for voting Lib Dem in the recent European elections, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday that leaving the EU with no deal without MPs’ consent would be an “abuse of our constitution”.

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He added the prime minister’s top adviser, the Vote Leave mastermind Dominic Cummings, was putting the country in an “intolerable position”.

Lord Heseltine added: “We’ve got this guy who is now in direct contact with the British media, briefing them on policies, scathingly attacking members of the House of Commons, who should be held in respect and actually parading himself as the mastermind behind the government.

“That is an intolerable position for democracy.”

A staff member carries ballot boxes at a counting centre in Islington, London, on June 8, 2017, after the polls closed in Britain's general election. Prime Minister Theresa May is poised to win Britain's snap election but lose her parliamentary majority, a shock exit poll suggested on June 8, in what would be a major blow for her leadership as Brexit talks loom.
Image: Critics of the PM have suggested he is preparing for an election

Rachael Maskell, Labour’s shadow transport minister, also told Sophy Ridge On Sunday that leaving the EU without the Commons endorsing no deal would be a “treacherous act”.

But policing minister Kit Malthouse accused Lord Heseltine and others of having “never quite reconciled themselves to the idea that we’re going to leave the EU”.

He said: “Obviously there’s lot of hyperbole being thrown around as we approach the date of 31 October.

“But in the end, even people like Lord Heseltine are going to have to focus on the fact that that’s what the British people commanded us to do, and that’s what the government is committing to do.”

MP Kit Malthouse
Image: Minister Kit Malthouse said there was a lot of ‘hyperbole’ about Brexit

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously denied to Sky News that the hospital funding pledge last week was about preparing the ground for a snap election.

“It’s not about a general election, it’s about improving the health service… it’s our top domestic priority to make sure the NHS is always there when you need it.”

Mr Johnson has said the “last thing” he wants to do is call a general election.

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