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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Top Tories warns of European divisions
Douglas Hurd supports Ken Clarke's leadership bid
Former foreign secretary Lord Hurd has warned Iain Duncan Smith he could face a rebellion over Europe if he wins the Tory party leadership contest.

Lord Hurd, a supporter of Ken Clarke, said Mr Duncan Smith's record as a rebel over the Maastricht Treaty during John Major's government meant he could not count on the support of pro-European MPs.

But former home secretary Michael Howard, who supports Mr Duncan Smith, said a victory for Ken Clarke would be a gift to the Labour party.

He told the BBC that if Mr Clarke won, the government would stage votes on Europe in the Commons, in order to divide the Tories.

Lord Hurd told the Sunday Telegraph: "There will be continued divisions because people will follow their convictions as he did."

The results of the ballot to replace William Hague as leader will be known on Wednesday.

'Poison'

Whichever man wins will face longstanding and worsening divisions over Europe, Lord Hurd warned.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith rebelled over Maastricht
The issue "will not be resolved by this election and whoever is elected will have to manage the divisions and drain the poison away," he said.

"Iain Duncan Smith made his reputation by following his own convictions, certainly, but by undermining, in concert with the Labour Party, what we were trying to do in Europe.

"He can't really call on any automatic loyalty against that background."

Lord Hurd said if Mr Duncan Smith moderated his policies, a conflict could be avoided, but said: "It would arise if the pro-Europeans were asked to vote against their beliefs - in that case he has set a precedent."

Disloyalty

Lord Hurd's comments echoed those of former prime minister John Major, who last month accused Mr Duncan Smith of disloyalty by voting "night after night after night" against his government over Maastricht.

The Tory peer said the division over Europe was an issue both Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Clarke had to overcome.

"They each have a problem over Europe, and each would have to manage it," he said.

He added the only way this could be solved would be to have a free vote over membership of the euro and "guidelines on which most Conservatives could agree about Europe".

"Whoever wins would have to try to do that," Lord Hurd added.

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08 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Tory rivals coy on vote outcome
07 Sep 01 | UK Politics
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