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Clarke joined Tony Blair to launch Britain in Europe
Clarke joined Tony Blair to launch Britain in Europe

Largely as a result of the Conservative Party's schism over Europe, it has become the single issue Ken Clarke is most closely associated with. But the ex-chancellor has wider interests.

He is chairman of the Tory Reform Group, the party's One Nation caucus. He himself has said "I hold all the classical liberal views, on hanging, race and all that sort of thing [including abortion]. My sense of social justice is quite strongly developed, I remain committed to the NHS and the state education system."

Lest that sound soft-centred, during the 1980s he described his polices as "Thatcherism with a human face" and happily adapted to her hardline approach, pushing through changes to, for example, the health service - Clarke was the minister who introduced the internal market to the NHS, raising howls of protest far and wide.

Nurses, doctors, ambulance staff and teachers have all experienced his bulldozer approach to pushing through far-reaching change in the face of deep opposition from the professions most affected.

Inevitably, though, Europe now defines the Rushcliffe MP. He is unashamedly pro-euro and has frequently berated Tony Blair for lacking the courage to campaign in favour of the single currency.

Clarke went so far as to join the prime minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown on the public platform that launched the pro-single currency Britain in Europe campaign - an act seen as near-treason by much of the Conservative parliamentary party, and one that he believes Blair would have lacked the boldness to match had their positions been reversed.






Audio/Video Clips
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All five candidates head-to-head on Question Time
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Ken Clarke finally ends the speculation and joins the race, June 2001
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Ken Clarke makes his mind up - but keeps his decision secret, June 2001
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The pro-euro Clarke explains why he joined Tony Blair in backing Britain in Europe, October 1999
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The former chancellor refuses to serve in Hague’s shadow cabinet, summer 1997
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