Crossword Genius

Boatman, at heart European, in first part of Tory attack (4,4)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

'attack' is the definition.
(I've seen this before)

'boatman at heart european in first part of tory' is the wordplay.
'boatman' becomes 'tar' (tar is an informal term for a sailor).
'at' becomes 'in'.
'heart european' becomes 'e' (I can't justify this - if you can you should give a lot more credence to this answer).
'in' is an insertion indicator.
'first part of' indicates taking half (the first half of the word).
'tar'+'in'='tarin'
'tarin' placed around 'e' is 'tearin'.
'tory' cut in half is 'to'.
'tearin'+'to'='TEAR INTO'

(Other definitions for tear into that I've seen before include "handbag", "Attack verbally", "Scold furiously".)

I've seen this clue in The Guardian.