Boris Johnson may have scuppered his chances of becoming the Prime Minister after making "obscene political remarks" during the referendum campaign, a Tory grandee has said.
Lord Michael Heseltine said that the former London mayor had behaved "irresponsibly" and "recklessly", adding he would be completely surprised if Johnson now led the country.
The comments by the former Tory frontbencher came after Johnson compared EU integration to Hitler's ambition to conquer Europe.
Read more: Boris Johnson compares EU to Hitler
Heseltine said: "[Johnson] crossed the bounds of domestic debate. It was about the most manic nationalist aggressive destruction on a scale unprecedented in human history. It was about the persecution of the Jews. A calculated decision to persecute the Jews on a massive scale – that was what he wanted to do. He believed in it.
"The idea that any serious British politician can in any way invoke that memory, I find – frankly, I had better contain my language. He is behaving now irresponsibly, recklessly and I fear that his judgment is going.
"I find it deeply distressing. I don’t really understand what Boris is up to, frankly. I know him, I like him, he makes me laugh. And yet [his comments] about Hitler – I found that deeply disturbing."
Johnson had told the Telegraph in an interview that "Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically", adding that while "different methods" were being used by Brussels, unifying Europe under one "authority" was the same goal.
"The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods. But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe. There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void."
As a result, Heseltine told the BBC that "every time he makes these extraordinary utterances I think people in the Conservative party will question whether he now has the judgment for that position.”="