Don’t expect to see Ken Clarke on Sky News anytime soon. The former Chancellor has been left red-faced after the broadcaster aired footage of him engaging in a very honest assessment of the Tory leadership — not realising the camera was rolling.
No candidate mentioned got off scot-free during his lively discussion with Sir Malcolm Rifkind. While raising the prospect of Michael Gove as Prime Minister, Clarke expressed concerns about his ‘wild’ views on foreign policy — concluding that, with the Justice Secretary as PM, Britain would go to war with ‘at least three countries at once’:
‘I remember having a discussion once about something we should do in Syria or Iraq and he was so wild that I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox., who’s much more right-wing than me. Liam was raising eyebrows. I think with Michael as Prime Minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once.’
Still Gove does have one upside — he helped to get rid of the prospect of Boris as Prime Minister:
‘He did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of having Boris as Prime Minister is frankly ridiculous.’
Clarke goes on to claim that both Johnson and Andrea Leadsom didn’t really care about leaving the EU. In a case of high praise indeed, he concedes that Leadsom could be okay as Tory leader so long as she ‘understands not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she’s been saying’.
As for Theresa May? ‘I mean Theresa is a bloody difficult woman, but then you and I [Rifkind] worked for Margaret Thatcher,’ Clarke laughs. He then suggests that the Home Secretary doesn’t know much about foreign affairs.
Given that Clarke has provided some of the most interesting leadership commentary yet, Mr S suspects that rather than holding another Tory leadership hustings, it would be far more insightful — and entertaining — for MPs if Clarke just took to the stand instead.