Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Clarke to join pro-euro campaign
Ken Clarke will join the pro-euro group soon after Euro-election polling day
By BBC News Online's Nyta Mann
Conservative former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke has confirmed that as soon the Euro-elections in June are out of the way, he will formally join with Labour pro-Europeans to promote the case for the UK joining the single currency.
In an interview with BBC News Online, Mr Clarke, asked how soon after the Euro-elections he will sign up to Britain in Europe - the pro-euro campaign launched with prime ministerial approval earlier this month - said: "Well I'm minded to sign up quite soon, because I think it's a convenient time to do so."
Mr Clarke said: "My desire is not to destabilise the Conservative Party any more than it is already destabilised on the European issue.
"I therefore think the mid-term of the Parliament is quite a good time to build on what William's already acknowledged, that there are going to be all-party campaigns on both sides.
"And so I'm inclined to join quite shortly after the Euro-elections, which I want to see conducted on a party basis."
He warned Tony Blair not to make party political capital out of senior pro-European Tories like himself, Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten and Leon Brittan being on the prime minister's side on the issue of joining the single currency.
"It's no good playing clever games with Tory trump cards," Mr Clarke warned. "He [Blair] has to ally himself with the best Conservatives he can find, but that involves a full commitment on his part so that Labour, Liberal and a good part of the Tory vote is all on the same side."
Government 'confusion' on Kosovo
The former Cabinet minister said the use of Nato ground troops was inevitable, adding: "I wish the government would decide precisely what its position is on ground troops and not keep sounding off day by day, causing confusion about what it wishes to do.
"I would advise the current Labour ministers to just shut up about ground troops.... You can announce you're using ground troops on the day they enter Kosovo."
Mr Clarke also attacked his own party's increasing reliance on spindoctoring techniques. He said the party had indulged in "crazy publicity" when it announced Tory leader William Hague's appointment last month of ex-tabloid newspaper editor Amanda Platell as its chief media strategist.
"If you start advertising what clothes your victim is going to wear, or what style he's going to approach, all you succeed in doing is making the next few appearances a public farce as people comment on 'Where's the [kitchen] table?' and 'Why haven't you got your sleeves rolled up?'."
Click here to read BBC News Online's full interview with Kenneth Clarke
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