Lord Heseltine slams Boris Johnson for 'abandoning his army'

Lord Heseltine

Critics have rounded on Boris Johnson after the former mayor of London quit the Conservative leadership race accused of having created a Brexit crisis without confronting the aftermath.

Tory grandee Michael Heseltine launched a stinging attack on Johnson, saying he must answer for the consequences of the campaign to take the UK out of the EU.

“He has ripped the Tory party apart, he has created the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime in my life,” he told the BBC. “He has knocked billions off the value of the savings of the British people.”

Johnson, said Lord Heseltine, was like “a general who marches his army to the sound of the guns and the moment he sees the battleground he abandons it … The pain of it will be felt by all of us and, if it doesn’t get resolved shortly, by a generation to come yet.”

Other critics included the actor Ewan McGregor, who said Johnson was “spineless” and had left it to someone else to “clear up [his] mess”.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said Johnson had followed “the Bullingdon playbook: you break it and someone else has to fix it”, referring to the Oxford drinking society of which Johnson and David Cameron were members.

Michael Gove, Johnson’s ally in the leave campaign, announced his own candidacy by casting aspersions on his former colleague’s ability to lead the party.

“I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future,” he said. “But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

Less than three hours later, Johnson was gone from the field.

The harsh words were not only reserved for him alone, however. MP Jake Berry, a member of Team Boris, tweeted after Johnson withdrew: “There is a very deep pit reserved in hell for such as he. #Gove.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th June 2016 19.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010