Lord Heseltine has had the Conservative whip suspended after saying he would vote Liberal Democrat in this week's European elections, the party has said.

The Tory grandee and former deputy prime minister, who sits in the upper chamber of parliament, was summoned to a meeting with the party's chief whip in the Lords on Monday.

"Lord Heseltine has given more than half a century of service to the Conservative party, and his longstanding and sincerely held views on Europe are well understood," a party spokesperson said after the meeting.

"But, with his long experience, he will know that publicly endorsing the candidates of another party is not compatible with taking the Conservative whip in parliament.

"As a result, the chief whip in the House of Lords has informed Lord Heseltine that he will have the Conservative whip suspended. This will be reviewed if he is willing to support Conservative candidates at future elections."

Heseltine, a lifelong pro-European, had said he would "experiment" with voting Lib Dem on Thursday because of the government's Brexit policy.

The peer used a Sunday Times article to explain the decision. "I cannot, with a clear conscience, vote for my party when it is myopically focused on forcing through the biggest act of economic self-harm ever undertaken by a democratic government," he wrote.

Speaking shortly before it was confirmed that the whip had been suspended, Heseltine told Sky News: "[Brexit] is the biggest issue of our time. This is a betrayal of national self-interest. This is a betrayal of the younger generation, who are passionately opposed to taking them out of the centre of world politics.

"Am I supposed to sneak away round the corner or do I do what I believe - if you're in public life - you ought to do, which is stand up and be counted? And, on this issue, the transcending issue of our times, I need to stand up and be counted."

He warned that the party faced "disaster" if it moved rightwards to try to take ground from the Brexit party following a poor showing in the European elections. "If you want to drive the Conservative party ever lower in public esteem, that's the way to do it."

Heseltine said the Conservative party needed to move to the centre ground in order to attract the "broad view of reasonable people", adding that the party risked forgetting the millions of its supporters who voted to remain and becoming an irrelevance among younger people.

Speaking after Heseltine's suspension, veteran Tory Sir Nicholas Soames condemned the move, telling Channel 4 News: "I think that's a really stupid, bovine thing to do.

"I will certainly have a very strong word with the chief whip who I'm going to go and have a cup of tea with when I have finished talking to you. I think it is a very silly thing to do."