Kenneth Clarke has been caught on camera doing that rarest of things for a politician: saying what he really thinks.
The footage, released today by Sky News, shows the Tory MP chatting with Tory Peer Sir Malcolm Rifkind about candidates for their party’s leadership, and thus for Prime Minister.
Clarke said the contest was a ‘fiasco’, with harsh words for each candidate, saying Michael Gove was ‘wild’ on foreign policy, that Andrea Leadsom had been saying ‘extremely stupid things’, and calling frontrunner Theresa May ‘a bloody difficult woman’.
He also called the idea of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister ‘ridiculous’. (Johnson ruled himself out of the race last week.)
You can watch the video here and read the full transcript below:
KC: I think I shall wind up voting Theresa. I might give Stephen Crabb an encouraging vote first. And I don’t know what Crabb’s views are on most things. A lot of my friends are great fans of his. But it is – I – what a fiasco.
MR: I don’t care who wins as long as Gove comes third. As long as Gove doesn’t come in the final two I don’t mind what happens.
KC: I don’t think the membership will vote for Gove.
MR: No, they won’t.
KC: I remember being in a discussion about something to do with somewhere like Syria or Iraq and he was so wild that I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox, who’s much more Right-wing than me. We exchanged views, and Liam was raising eyebrows.
I think with Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once. […]
He did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of Boris as prime minister is ridiculous.[…]
I don’t think either Andrea Leadsom or Boris Johnson actually [sic] in favour of leaving the European Union.
MR: Well I don’t think they even cared very much either way.
KC: No. There was the obvious thing that the voters, i.e. Conservative Party members, were gonna vote Leave.
MR: I don’t know Andrea at all. I know that she said something, this remark a couple of years ago.
KC: Only three years ago. She’s had a Pauline conversion. And she does have experience in the City and the Bank of England. She is not one of the tiny band of lunatics who think we can have a sort of glorious economic future outside the single market. […]
So long as she understands that she’s not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she’s been saying.[…]
I hope these two I’m going to see today are going to prove me wrong – Stephen and Theresa – that one of them’s actually begun to have the slightest idea of what they’re gonna do.
MR: I think Theresa must have a pretty good idea.
KC: Yeah, Theresa.. I agree with what you said. I mean, Theresa is a bloody difficult woman but you and I worked with Margaret Thatcher. [Both laugh]
I get on all right with her … and she is good.
She’s too narrow on her department. The thing I don’t know.. She’s been at the Home Office far too long, so I only know in detail what her views are on the Home Office.
She doesn’t know much about foreign affairs.’