UK Conservatives should focus on dismantling the Chequers plan rather than ousting the current prime minister, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said during a meeting of some 50 Tory MPs Tuesday evening.
The parliamentarians gathered that day to elaborate a plan to replace Prime Minister Theresa May because of their frustration at her handling of Brexit negotiations, The Independent reported.
"It's not about the leadership. It's about the policy," Johnson reportedly told the gathering. "It's not about changing prime minister. It's about chucking Chequers."
Heseltine said he does not believe Johnson's colorful rhetoric has done "irreparable harm" to his figure and noted that the former foreign secretary is extremely popular with party activists.
"What you have to say to yourself is who the Tory party membership of the House of Commons is going to choose to send to the activists of the Conservative Party in any leadership campaign," Heseltine said in an interview with BBC Radio 4. "Whilst there is strong opposition to Boris, I find it difficult to think of two names that they will send that don't include him."
"All that is one thing. But if you then ask a second question. Does that unify the party? Does that solve Brexit? Does it get Britain back into the centre ground?" the Lord continued.
Johnson, a strong supporter for a hard Brexit, is currently under fire from supporters of the Remain campaign among the Conservatives. Therefore the prospect of him unifying the party seems rather low, the Lord noted. This has also been echoed by Guto Harri, Johnson's communications director during his time as mayor of London.
According to Harri, Johnson would be a "highly divisive figure," should he become the PM. However, Harri also noted that his former boss successfully widened his appeal while he was still a mayor of London, gaining approval from traditional Tory voters, as well as some Labour supporters.