His finest moment came with his parting shot at Maggie when he set the ball rolling for her political assassination. But then Lord Howe always likes to stand at a distance and encourage someone else to wield the knife. There is nothing wrong in being clever like this, but I think he is striking from a distance and upon a platform that the majority of people do not support. I would go so far as to say he is unwittingly scoring points for anti-EU voters.
Being criticised by senior Tory Lord Geoffrey Howe was once memorably described by Labour’s Denis Healey as like being “savaged by a dead sheep”.
But the Tory peer whose resignation triggered the downfall of Lady Thatcher in 1990, today sank his teeth into David Cameron’s Conservative party – and the “dead sheep” could yet draw blood.
The former foreign secretary and chancellor accused the prime minister of losing control of his party amid its continuing "long, nervous breakdown" over Europe.
And he lamented the "new, almost farcical" level of debate over Europe within his party.
But health secretary Jeremy Hunt dismissed the intervention by Lord Howe, insisting the Conservative party was united amid reports of splits.
The prime minister was showing leadership on Britain's relationship with the EU, according to Mr Hunt in an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.
Lord Howe, writing in The Observer, said: "Sadly, by making it clear in January that he opposes the current terms of UK membership of the EU, the prime minister has opened a Pandora's box politically and seems to be losing control of his party in the process.
"The ratchet-effect of euroscepticism has now gone so far that the Conservative leadership is in effect running scared of its own backbenchers, let alone Ukip, having allowed deep anti-Europeanism to infect the very soul of the party.”
And he warned the Conservative party would move to oppose Britain remaining part of the EU, with or without a referendum, if it lost the next general election – which was possible.
“This week has shown that the Conservative party's long, nervous breakdown over Europe continues, and what is essentially a Tory problem is now, once again, becoming a national problem, too” said Lord Howe.
But he said clear thinking, strong leadership and a focus on the national interest rather than party political interest could save the situation.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats had a “heavy responsibility” if the Conservative party was “losing its head”, according to Lord Howe.
He claimed walking away from the EU would be a "very dangerous choice”.