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Former deputy prime minister warns election campaign will be ‘dishonest’

He said Britain needs to work more closely with the nation’s ‘European neighbours, who share our experiences’.

Tory grandee Michael Heseltine has warned that the General Election campaign will be the “most dishonest in modern time” because both parties refuse to debate the consequences of Brexit.

Lord Michael Heseltine, deputy prime minister from 1995 to 1997 and a key figure in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, fell out with the Conservative Party during the Brexit debate because he wanted to remain in the European Union.

Writing in the Independent, he said: “We are now at the start of what I foresee will be the most dishonest election of modern times.

“The state of our economy, defence and environment, the need to level up our society, control immigration and restore Britain’s standing in the world. None of these issues can be honestly addressed in isolation from our relationship with Europe. Yet Europe is the no-go area.

“Why cannot the two major parties debate immigration in the round? The boats contain just 5% of those who might or might not be sent to Rwanda. They are a small part of the near-700,000 net immigration figure – the real elephant in the room.

He said Britain needs to work more closely with its “European neighbours, who share our experiences.”

“Until we consider the consequences for our farms, care homes, hospitals and universities of culling the numbers, all the talk of change, the constant assertion of ‘plans’ amount to little more than platitudes blowing in the wind.”

He added that Britain may not be able to rely on Nato if former US president Donald Trump is elected, thus needing a closer defence relationship with Europe.

General Election campaign 2024
The Tories have said that all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of ‘mandatory’ national service if they are re-elected on July 4 (Lucy North/PA)

It comes as the General Election campaign is in full swing.

Labour and the Tories will clash over security after the Conservatives announced controversial plans to introduce National service.

In a keynote speech ahead of polling day, Sir Keir Starmer will say that “economic security, border security, and national security” will form the “bedrock” of the party manifesto.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will reinforce his message that the Conservatives will take “bold action” to deliver “a secure future for the next generation.”

The Tories have said that all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of “mandatory” national service if they are re-elected on July 4 as part of plans.

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