Lord Heseltine warns spiralling Tory party is ‘fighting for its life’ after disastrous D-Day fallout

Lord Heseltine has issued a rallying cry to the Conservative Party warning it is in the “fight for its life” and needs to focus on attacking the enemy.

The dramatic intervention by a former deputy prime minister who was at the heart of grasping the Tories’ most unlikely victory in 1992 comes as the polls are predicting a Canadian style wipeout of the party.

Tory MPs fear that the fate of the Canadian Conservatives in 1993 when they went into the election as the government and were left with just two seats, could be their fate in 2024.

But Lord Heseltine urged the party to “learn the lesson” from the spirit of El Alamein – the pivotal Second World War battle where the fortunes of Britain and her allies finally turned around and the apparently inevitable victory of Hitler was stopped in its tracks.

The intervention has been made at a crucial point in the general election campaign where Rishi Sunak has gone to ground after his appalling mistake in leaving the D-Day commemorations early. It also comes as:

Lord Heseltine, who was part of the remarkable turnaround which saw the Conservatives take what seemed to be an impossible victory in 1992, told The Independent that Mr Sunak’s apology for his D-Day gaffe should be accepted as a rare example of a politician admitting he had made a mistake.

He said: “The election campaign has become a rewrite of one of history’s greatest military achievements. We shall never forget the sacrifice of so many young people from our country, the Commonwealth, America and Europe.

“Forty years ago as defence secretary I stood alongside the Queen at the commemoration at that time with tears in my eyes.

“Rishi Sunak made a serious mistake. He had the courage to acknowledge it and apologise. Few politicians ever do that.”

But it was other military analogies which sprung to mid for him when looking at the Tories’ current predicament.

“As I read the press and examine the polls there is another historic memory we should remember – Dunkirk. The French put their soldiers between the beaches and the Germans to enable us to evacuate our army with the purpose to fight back.

“‘We shall never surrender’ echoed down the corridors of history.”

The political grandee believes that the current government is not getting enough credit for steering the UK through an unprecedented period of global disasters.

“The country has been through a world economic depression, a world epidemic, the Ukrainian war, and everyone has felt and is feeling the consequences of events that had no causes in this country.

“The Conservatives shouldered their responsibilities and, under the present prime minister and chancellor, have enabled us to see the first shoots of recovery: falling inflation and economic growth.”

And he believes that this week should be seen as an opportunity for a turning point.

“To follow the military analysis it is General Montgomery at El-Alamein, one of the first turning points of the Second World War. Of course there were disputes between allies and even their military commanders but there was no doubt about one clear thing: the need to win and the need to attack the enemy.

“The Conservative Party should learn from that lesson. It is fighting for its life.

It has three targets: a Labour Party which throughout its history when entrusted with power has run our economy into the ground; a bundle of minor parties that can never form a government; and Nigel Farage with his nauseating racist undertone pandering to the worst known instincts. Across the water communities are being torn apart.

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