Conservative peer Lord Heseltine has launched a blistering attack on former London mayor Boris Johnson, accusing the MP of "ripping the party apart"

Mark Sands
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Conservative Party Autumn Conference 2015 - Day 2
Tory peer Lord Heseltine says Boris Johnson has "ripped the party apart" (Source: Getty)

Boris Johnson's decision not to stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party has been savaged by Tory grandee Lord Heseltine.

In a blistering attack, the avidly pro-Europe Heseltine accused Johnson of “ripping the [Conservative] party apart”, and slammed the former London mayor's refusal to run for Tory leader, and therefore prime minister, as both “contemptible” and “irresponsible”

“He's created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times. He's knocked billions off the value of the nation's savings,” Heseltine told BBC Radio earlier today.

“He's like a general that led his army to the sound of guns and at the sight of the battlefield abandoned the field.”

Johnson made the shock announcement that he would not stand earlier today, leaving home secretary Theresa May as the favourite to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron.

Read More: MPs react to Boris' “breathtaking” leadership decision

In the meantime, last week's Brexit vote has left decision makers and investors globally facing uncertainty, Heseltine said.

“The priority know is for that question to be answered and quickly. We cannot just let this thing drift while everybody makes speeches and pontificates.

“That decision making, until it is restored, will us cost jobs and investment and is at the heart of our future prosperity.”

As for Johnson, Heseltine had a withering final verdict: “He must live with the shame of what he has done.”