Clarke return to top Tory politics

FORMER chancellor Ken Clarke is returning to front bench politics by joining David Cameron's shadow team with the business portfolio.

Graham Dines

FORMER chancellor Ken Clarke is returning to front bench politics by joining David Cameron's shadow team with the business portfolio.

The 68 year-old, who has been on the backbenches since the Conservatives were swept from office in 1997, will be shadowing another famous returnee - Lord (Peter) Mandelson.

Mr Clarke, whose pro-European outlook makes him a hate figure with the Eurosceptic right, has said he will not rock the boat over Europe although, of course, Labour will try to drive a wedge between Clarke and Cameron.

He said he had accepted the post of shadow business secretary because he wanted to help Britain tackle “the gravest economic crisis I have known in my lifetime.”

Mr Clarke, who stood unsuccessfully for the Tory leadership three times, said his pro-European views were well-known.

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“But I accept that the party has come to a settled view on European matters, and I will not oppose the direction David will set on European policies in the future,” he added.