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The BBC's Jo Coburn
"Despite his popularity with the grass roots, he first has to win support from Tory MPs"
 real 56k

Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Clarke accused of insulting Tories
Ken Clarke
Clarke would invite his rivals into his shadow cabinet
Former chancellor Kenneth Clarke has been accused by fellow Tory leadership challenger Michael Ancram of insulting the Conservative party under William Hague.

Mr Ancram's comments came after Mr Clarke said there were "painful facts" about the past four years of Conservative opposition, which the party had to deal with to stand a chance of winning the next election.

Earlier Mr Clarke offered his rivals a place in his shadow cabinet if he wins the leadership job.

He had already said he would ask Michael Portillo to serve under him and in an interview with a Sunday newspaper he extended the offer to Mr Ancram, David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith.


If you do get so badly defeated as a party you do have to face up to some painful facts and you do have to change

Ken Clarke
But Mr Clarke made it clear he intended to overhaul Tory policies.

Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast With Frost programme, Mr Clarke said: "I am sorry to upset my colleagues by saying we wasted four years in opposition but if you do get so badly defeated as a party you do have to face up to some painful facts and you do have to change."

He criticised the election campaign for "not mentioning" key issues of public services and focusing heavily on the issue of entry into the European single currency.

'Uniting the party'

Mr Ancram said it was a "real insult" for the former chancellor to say the party had wasted the last four years.

"I am coming into this leadership campaign unlike Ken not saying everything has been wrong, and not like Ken again saying I have a policy which is going to divide the party," he told the programme.


It is very unwise to say we lost the last election so we are all going to jump into an totally different camp and with a whole lot of new policies

Michael Ancram
"I am coming in saying I am a candidate who can unite the Conservative Party.

"It is very unwise to say we lost the last election so we are all going to jump into an totally different camp and with a whole lot of new policies," he said.

Another contender, right-wing backbencher David Davis, told GMTV's The Sunday Programme it was "difficult to imagine" how Mr Clarke could lead the party when he disagreed with 85% of party members about joining the euro.

No euro 'loyalty test'

But he made clear pro-euro views would not be a bar to joining his own cabinet and refused to repeat Tory mistakes of the past by making the issue a "personal loyalty test".

"Someone who doesn't agree with me on Europe can be a perfectly good transport spokesman, health spokesman, education spokesman.

"If we get to the point of a referendum, this is such an important issue it transcends party.

"I would not take orders as to how I would behave and I would not expect others to either."

The deadline for nominations for the leadership contest closes on Thursday.

And MPs now have 10 days to decide how they cast their vote in the first ballot, to be held on the following Tuesday.

By mid-July, they are expected to whittle the field down to the two challengers who go before a vote of the 300,000 Tory party members.

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See also:

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