Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK

UK Politics

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."

[ image: Clive Hollick: The Labour peer is one of the chief organisers a financial backer of Britain in Europe]
Clive Hollick: The Labour peer is one of the chief organisers a financial backer of Britain in Europe
Mr Clarke's comments are the first confirmation that he will join the group. Britain in Europe includes Labour's Lord Hollick, Liberal Democrat Menzies Campbell and AEEU leader Ken Jackson on its board.

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."

Clarke on Britain in Europe: "I'm minded to sign up quite soon"
Mr Clarke added: "I still wish to make it a condition that it is genuinely all-party."

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

[ image: Tony Blair: His government should
Tony Blair: His government should "shut up" about ground troops, according to Clarke
In the same interview Mr Clarke criticised government handling of the Kosovo crisis.

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."

Clarke on Kosovo: "Ground troops will be required - and government ministers should just shut up about it"
Mr Clarke went on to say that "the instinct of this government is so media-dominated that I think at times they lack the self-discipline to just to shut up - particularly when there's some confusion in their own minds about exactly what they're going to do next.... I have to say to the prime minister that it doesn't require daily press conferences and soundings off."

'Crazy publicity'

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

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Politics Contents

A-Z of Parliament
Talking Politics
Vote 2001

Relevant Stories

10 Apr 99 | Euro latest
Pro-euro fightback begins

15 Feb 99 | UK Politics
Country needs Clarke - Blair

14 Feb 99 | Europe
Tories warned against moving further to the right

Internet Links

Conservative Party

Britain in Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Livingstone hits back

Catholic monarchy ban 'to continue'

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Straw on trial over jury reform

Blairs' surprise over baby

Conceived by a spin doctor?

Baby cynics question timing

Blair in new attack on Livingstone

Week in Westminster

Chris Smith answers your questions

Reid quits PR job

Children take over the Assembly

Two sword lengths

Industry misses new trains target