Boris Johnson’s removal could trigger a second referendum on Brexit, a Tory peer has said.
Michael Heseltine suggested public “anger” could lead to another vote on the UK’s membership in the EU.
The anti-Brexit peer’s comments come as the prime minister is facing mounting pressure from the public and Tory backbenchers because of a series of allegations of government parties during Covid restrictions.
Another chance to express people’s views
Heseltine, who is a leading campaigner for another Brexit vote and former deputy prime minister, told Times Radio: “The Brexit agenda was a pack of lies… What happens if Boris goes, does Brexit go – throw the whole thing up in the air?”
“Will the majority, now, of people who believe Brexit was wrong, have another chance to express their view?”
He added: “People are extremely angry, and they turn to extremes in those circumstances, we know, with horrific consequences in history. So something has to be resolved quickly.
“This is against the background where the government is going to be less popular, for one reason, and that is the falling living standards that are now built into the inflation cycle.”
Starmer and Blair reject idea of rejoining the EU
Heseltine’s thoughts come as Labour leader Keir Starmer said this week that there is “no case for rejoining, so we have to make it work”.
“We are out and we’re staying out,” he told The Guardian.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair seemed to follow a similar line of thought with Starmer, also saying this week that what the UK needs is to make the relationship with the EU “work”.
At the same time, Blair argued it would be a mistake to try and rejoin the bloc in the near future. “It would be a political error to revive the whole argument – you just have to accept that, no matter how passionately opposed to it I was,” he said.
Brexiteer predicts Johnson could face vote next week
Meanwhile, Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen, one of the Tory MPs who publicly declared he wants Johnson to go by submitting a no-confidence letter, predicted there will be a leadership challenge next week.
Bridgen, who backed Johnson in the 2019 general election, said his role is now “untenable” because of numerous ongoing allegations of Downing Street parties during Covid lockdowns and restrictions.
“We had about 150 emails regarding the prime minister’s position. We cleared them down and responded to them all by midday, and then by 3.30pm there were another 168,” Bridgen told Sky News.
He added: “It’s not just one mistake by Boris Johnson and those at Number 10. It’s a pattern of behaviour.
“It indicates to me that they think that they can do what they want and that’s not acceptable to me, my constituents, and I don’t think it’s acceptable behaviour for someone leading the country.”
For the vote to happen, 54 Tory MPs have to write no-confidence letters and a majority of 180 Tory MPs have to vote against Johnson.
Related: Eastern European who left UK in 2012: ‘My experience made me predict Brexit’