Brexit: Michael Heseltine says the young will push for a reversal
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“Brexit” almost seemed to have become a forgotten word during some moments of the Covid pandemic. But speaking during a lecture in Nottingham on Wednesday afternoon, the former Deputy Prime Minister gave the impression that the 2016 referendum campaign was still in full swing.
He urged Remainers to channel the enthusiasm of Brexiteers who “never gave up”.
Britons voted to leave the EU five years ago and ‘Brexit Day’ – when the UK officially left the bloc – occurred two years ago in January.
But for Lord Heseltine, Brexit continues to be “unfinished business”.
“We must restore Britain’s position in the corridors of European power,” he said.
“That is out natural home – where our history is founded and where much of our future will lie.”
Ben Harris-Quinney, Chairman of Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, the Bow Group, has hit back, saying the view that the country’s history was founded in the corridors of European power has no bearing in reality “outside of the fantasy realm of failed quisling politicians like Lord Heseltine”.
He told Express.co.uk: “In his dotage, Lord Heseltine has become someone driven mad by Brexit, who won’t change his mind and can’t change the subject.”
“Most young people today favour Marxist doctrines, so by Heseltine’s logic that is also our inevitable future.
“Young people tend to have very left wing views, but then they grow up.”
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Lord Heseltine accepted that rejoining the EU will not be easy: “It’ll take time. It will require energy and leadership.”
But said it would be well worth the effort, given the damage that has been dealt by our departure from the bloc.
Britons have “end up paying higher prices and having lower standards of living as a result of this ill thought out and cynical political decision by the Prime Minister to get into Number 10,” he said.
Among the consequences of leaving the EU, he listed “gaps in the supermarket shelves”, “queues in doctors surgeries” and “well over a million European workers” leaving for home.
For Lord Heseltine, these issues are a result primarily of Brexit, not of international supply issues and many months of disruptive lockdowns.
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Raising one of the most commonly touted criticisms of the Brexit vote, he accused the older generation of voters of denying young Britons the chance to live prosperous lives.
“My generation excluded [young people] from one of the great power blocs of this century – of their century,” he said.
“This will fuel a deep resentment and, indeed, a hunger to join back with the Europeans as a partner.”
But Mr Harris-Quinney claims that the idea of rejoining the EU will become even more – not less – unattractive over time.
“The EU is now a federal superstate, rejoining in decades to come would undoubtedly mean surrendering far more powers than was the case when we were members before,” he said.
“That’s a very tough sell, as young or old Britain has always been a nation of patriots.”
Lord Heseltine gave his battlecry at an event focussed around former Prime Minister Edward Heath’s “achievement in securing membership of the EU and the consequences of Brexit”.
He spoke alongside Kenneth Clarke who was – and continues to be – a prominent Tory critic of Britain’s departure from the EU.
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