Heseltine has also teamed up with business secretary Vince Cable to formulate an “industrial policy” that would aim to boost Britain’s manufacturing industry.
His re-emergence in government could cause friction with the right-wing of the Conservative party, which is still hostile to the Europhile one-nation Tory for his attacks on Margaret Thatcher.
But his new role was dismissed by opposition politicians. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna will say today that Heseltine’s office, in Cable’s department, is in a “backwater”. He will add that the government “simply do not buy into the idea of government activism. This is, of course, a betrayal of Heseltine’s legacy”.