The Conservatives are not "dumping Margaret Thatcher" and are the rightful successors of her legacy, shadow chancellor George Osborne has said.
Mr Osborne said he was an admirer of Lady Thatcher
Mr Osborne told the Daily Telegraph Gordon Brown's meeting with the former PM was "ridiculous", as he had opposed everything her government had done.
"Of course we are successors of the Thatcher inheritance," he said.
Business Secretary John Hutton said the comments showed the Conservatives were "retreating to the right"
The prime minister was photographed giving Lady Thatcher a handshake two weeks ago outside 10 Downing Street - where he met her for talks and a tour of her former home - angering some Labour and Tory MPs.
'Heir to Blair'
On Wednesday, Tory peer Lord Tebbit praised Mr Brown's "political nous" in inviting Lady Thatcher over and accused current Tory leader David Cameron of being "at great pains to distance himself from her".
He also criticised Mr Cameron for allowing others to call him the "heir to Blair".
Mr Brown has been criticised for inviting Lady Thatcher to tea
But in an interview with the Telegraph ahead of next week's Tory conference, Mr Osborne said he was an "admirer of Margaret Thatcher", whom he described as "one of the great prime ministers of British history".
"Of course we are successors of the Thatcher inheritance. She's a Conservative and I'm a Conservative and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are Labour politicians.
"We're not dumping Margaret Thatcher. David Cameron's first job in politics was working for Margaret Thatcher."
Mr Brown has said he wants a new inclusive type of politics and has recently persuaded two Tory MPs and a Tory donor to become his advisers and another Tory MP, Quentin Davies, to defect to Labour.
At the Labour Party conference this week he promised to continue to reach out "to those people who share our views ... people who may have voted for, indeed are members of, other political parties".
But he was criticised by members of his own party after praising Lady Thatcher as a "conviction politician".
Mr Osborne added: "Posing on the steps of Downing Street with Margaret Thatcher is ridiculous when everyone knows he was there in the 1980s opposing every single thing the Conservative government was doing."
But Mr Hutton said the comments showed Mr Cameron's attempts to move the Conservatives to the centre ground of politics was just "a superficial PR gloss".
"The speed with which David Cameron and George Osborne have retreated into their right-wing comfort zone shows to the nation that the Tories have not changed," he added.