The Lord Clarke of Nottingham
Kenneth Clarke in 2017
Official portrait, 2017
Minister without Portfolio
In office
4 September 2012 – 14 July 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byThe Baroness Warsi
Succeeded byRobert Halfon (2015)
Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJack Straw
Succeeded byChris Grayling
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
27 May 1993 – 2 May 1997
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byNorman Lamont
Succeeded byGordon Brown
Home Secretary
In office
10 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byKenneth Baker
Succeeded byMichael Howard
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
2 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
Prime Minister
Preceded byJohn MacGregor
Succeeded byJohn Patten (Education)
Secretary of State for Health
In office
25 July 1988 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Moore (Social Services)
Succeeded byWilliam Waldegrave
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
13 July 1987 – 25 July 1988
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman Tebbit
Succeeded byTony Newton
Ministerial offices
Minister of State for Trade and Industry
In office
13 July 1987 – 25 July 1988
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byGiles Shaw
Succeeded byEric Forth
Paymaster General
In office
2 September 1985 – 13 July 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Gummer
Succeeded byPeter Brooke
Minister of State for Employment
In office
2 September 1985 – 13 July 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byPeter Morrison
Succeeded byJohn Cope
Minister of State for Health
In office
5 March 1982 – 2 September 1985
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byGerard Vaughan
Succeeded byBarney Hayhoe
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport[a]
In office
7 May 1979 – 5 March 1982
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Horam
Succeeded byLynda Chalker
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
8 January 1974 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byHugh Rossi
Succeeded byDonald Coleman
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byAlan Duncan (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform)
Succeeded byPat McFadden
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
LeaderJohn Major
Preceded byGordon Brown
Succeeded byPeter Lilley
Parliamentary offices
Father of the House of Commons
In office
26 February 2017 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byGerald Kaufman
Succeeded byPeter Bottomley
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
as a life peer
17 September 2020
Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe
In office
18 June 1970 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byAntony Gardner
Succeeded byRuth Edwards
Personal details
Kenneth Harry Clarke

(1940-07-02) 2 July 1940 (age 83)
West Bridgford, England
Political partyConservative
Gillian Edwards
(m. 1964; died 2015)
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Kenneth Harry Clarke, Baron Clarke of Nottingham, CH, PC, KC (born 2 July 1940)[1] is a British politician who served as Home Secretary from 1992 to 1993 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1993 to 1997. A member of the Conservative Party, he was Member of Parliament (MP) for Rushcliffe from 1970 to 2019 and was Father of the House of Commons between 2017 and 2019. The President of the Tory Reform Group since 1997, he is a one-nation conservative who identifies with economically and socially liberal views.

Clarke served in the Cabinets of Margaret Thatcher and John Major as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 1987 to 1988, Health Secretary from 1988 to 1990, and Education Secretary from 1990 to 1992. He held two of the Great Offices of State as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He contested the Conservative Party leadership three times—in 1997, 2001 and 2005—being defeated each time. Opinion polls indicated he was more popular with the general public than with his party, whose generally Eurosceptic stance did not chime with his pro-European views. Under the coalition government of David Cameron, he returned to the Cabinet as Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor from 2010 to 2012 and Minister without Portfolio from 2012 to 2014. He was also the United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion from 2010 to 2014.

The Conservative whip was withdrawn from him in September 2019 because he and 20 other MPs voted with the Opposition on a motion; for the remainder of his time in Parliament he sat as an independent, though still on the government benches. He stood down as an MP at the 2019 general election and was thereafter appointed by Boris Johnson as a Conservative Member of the House of Lords in September 2020.

Clarke is President of the Conservative Europe Group, Co-President of the pro-EU body British Influence and Vice-President of the European Movement UK.[2] Described by the press as a 'Big Beast' of British politics, his total time as a minister is the fifth-longest in the modern era. He has spent over 20 years serving under Prime Ministers Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron. He was one of only five ministers (Tony Newton, Malcolm Rifkind, Patrick Mayhew and Lynda Chalker are the others) to serve throughout the whole 18 years of the Thatcher–Major governments, which represents the longest uninterrupted ministerial service in Britain since Lord Palmerston in the early 19th century.

Early life and education

Clarke was born in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, and was christened with the same name as his father, Kenneth Clarke, a Nottinghamshire mining electrician and later a watchmaker and jeweller.[3] He won a scholarship to attend the independent Nottingham High School[4] before going to read for a law degree at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an upper second honours degree. Clarke initially held Labour sympathies, and his grandfather was a Communist, but while at Cambridge he joined the Conservative Party.

As Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA), Clarke invited former British Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley to speak for two years in succession, prompting some Jewish students (including his future successor at the Home Office, Michael Howard) to resign from CUCA in protest.[5] Howard then defeated Clarke in one election for the presidency of the Cambridge Union, but Clarke became President of the Cambridge Union a year later, being elected on 6 March 1963 by a majority of 56 votes. Clarke opposed the admission of women to the Union, and is quoted as saying upon his election, "The fact that Oxford has admitted them does not impress me at all. Cambridge should wait a year to see what happens before any decision is taken on admitting them."[6]

In an early-1990s documentary, journalist Michael Cockerell played to Clarke some tape recordings of Clarke speaking at the Cambridge Union as a young man, and he displayed amusement at hearing his then-stereotypical upper class accent. Clarke is deemed one of the Cambridge Mafia, a group of prominent Conservative politicians who were educated at Cambridge in the 1960s. After leaving Cambridge, Clarke was called to the bar in 1963 at Gray's Inn, and was made Queen's Counsel in 1980.[7]

Parliamentary career

Clarke sought election to the House of Commons almost immediately after leaving university. His political career began by contesting the Labour stronghold of Mansfield at the 1964 and 1966 elections. In June 1970, just before his 30th birthday, he won the East Midlands constituency of Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire, south of Nottingham, from Labour MP Tony Gardner. From 2017 to 2019 he was Father of the House. Following his expulsion from the Conservative Party in September 2019, he became the first Independent MP to hold the position of Father of the House since Clement Tudway, who died in office as MP for Wells in 1815.

Clarke was soon appointed a Government whip, and served as such from 1972 to 1974; he, with the assistance of Labour rebels, helped ensure Edward Heath's government won key votes on British entry into the European Communities (which later evolved into the European Union). Even though Clarke opposed the election of Margaret Thatcher as Conservative Party Leader in 1975, he was appointed as her Industry Spokesman from 1976 to 1979, and then occupied a range of ministerial positions during her premiership.

He is the subject of a portrait in oil commissioned by Parliament.[8][9]

Early ministerial positions

Clarke first served in the government of Margaret Thatcher as Parliamentary Secretary for Transport (1979–81) and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (1981–82), and then Minister of State for Health (1982–85).

Clarke joined the Cabinet as Paymaster General and Employment Minister (1985–87) (his Secretary of State, Lord Young of Graffham, sat in the Lords), and served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of the DTI (1987–88) with responsibility for Inner Cities. While in that position, Clarke announced the sale to British Aerospace of the Rover Group, a new name for British Leyland, which had been nationalised in 1975 by the Government of Harold Wilson.[10]

Health Secretary

Clarke was appointed the first Secretary of State for Health when the department was created out of the former Department of Health and Social Security in July 1988.[11] Clarke, with backing from John Major, persuaded Thatcher to accept the controversial "internal market" concept to the NHS.[12][13] Clarke claimed that he had persuaded Thatcher to introduce internal competition in the NHS as an alternative to her preference for introducing a system of compulsory health insurance, which he opposed.[14]

He told his biographer Malcolm Balen: "John Moore was pursuing a line which Margaret [Thatcher] was very keen on, which made everything compulsory medical insurance. I was bitterly opposed to that...The American system is...the world's worst health service – expensive, inadequate and with a lot of rich doctors".[15] In her memoirs Thatcher claimed that Clarke, although "a firm believer in state provision", was "an extremely effective Health minister – tough in dealing with vested interests and trade unions, direct and persuasive in his exposition of government policy".[16]

In January 1989, Clarke's White Paper Working for Patients appeared; this advocated giving hospitals the right to become self-governing NHS Trusts, taxpayer-funded but with control over their budgets and independent of the regional health authorities.[17] It also proposed that doctors be given the option to become "GP fundholders". This would grant doctors control of their own budgets in the belief that they would purchase the most effective services for their patients. Instead of doctors automatically sending patients to the nearest hospital, they would be able to choose where they were treated. In this way, money would follow the patient and the most efficient hospitals would receive the greatest funding.[18]

This was not well received by doctors and their trade union, the British Medical Association, launched a poster campaign against Clarke's reforms, claiming that the NHS was "underfunded, undermined and under threat". They also called the new GP contracts "Stalinist". A March 1990 opinion poll commissioned by the BMA showed that 73% believed that the NHS was not safe in Conservative hands.[18] Clarke later claimed that the BMA was "the most unscrupulous trade union I have ever dealt with and I've dealt with every trade union across the board".[18] Although Thatcher tried to halt the reforms just before they were introduced, Clarke successfully argued that they were necessary to demonstrate the government's commitment to the NHS. Thatcher told Clarke: "It is you I'm holding responsible if my NHS reforms don't work".[18]

By 1994 almost all hospitals had opted to become trusts but GP fundholding was much less popular.[19] There were allegations that fundholders received more funding than non-fundholders, creating a two-tier system. GP fundholding was abolished by Labour in 1997 and replaced by Primary Care Groups.[20] According to John Campbell, by "the mid-1990s the NHS was treating more patients, more efficiently than in the 1980s...the system was arguably better managed and more accountable than before".[20] Studies suggest that while the competition introduced in the "internal market" system resulted in shorter waiting times it also caused a reduction in the quality of care for patients.[21][22]

Clarke has been the subject of criticism over the decades for his involvement in the contaminated blood scandal.[23][24][25] It was the largest loss-of-life disaster in Britain since the 1950s and claimed the lives of thousands of haemophiliacs.[26] Theresa May ordered a public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal in July 2017.[27] In July 2021, Clarke gave oral evidence to the inquiry with his demeanour being widely branded "arrogant, pompous and contemptuous" by the press. It was reported that he argued with inquiry counsel, refused to apologise and at one point even walked out while the chairman, Sir Brian Langstaff, was speaking.[28][29][30]

The MSF trade union claimed that Clarke's exclusion of NHS medical laboratory staff from the pay review body in 1984 led to massive staff shortages and a crisis in medical laboratory testing by 1999.[31]

Later ministerial positions

Just over two years later he was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science in the final weeks of Thatcher's Government, following Norman Tebbit's unwillingness to return to Cabinet following the resignation of Sir Geoffrey Howe. Clarke was the first Cabinet Minister to advise Thatcher to resign after her victory in the first round of the November 1990 leadership contest was less than the 15% winning margin required to prevent a second ballot; she referred to him in her memoirs as a candid friend: "his manner was robust in the brutalist style he has cultivated: the candid friend".[32]

Clarke came to work with John Major very closely, and quickly emerged as a central figure in his government. After continuing as Education Secretary (1990–92), where he introduced a number of reforms, he was appointed as Home Secretary in the wake of the Conservatives' victory at the 1992 general election. In May 1993, seven months after the impact of "Black Wednesday" had damaged Norman Lamont's credibility as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Major sacked Lamont and appointed Clarke in his place.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

At first, Clarke was seen as the dominant figure in Cabinet, and at the October 1993 Conservative Party Conference he defended Major from his critics by pronouncing "any enemy of John Major is an enemy of mine."

In the party leadership contest of 1995, when John Major beat John Redwood, Clarke kept faith in Major and commented: "I don't think the Conservative Party could win an election in 1,000 years on this ultra right-wing programme".[33]

Clarke enjoyed an increasingly successful record as Chancellor, as the economy recovered from the recession of the early 1990s and a new monetary policy was put into effect after Black Wednesday. He reduced the basic rate of income tax from 25% to 23%, reduced UK Government spending as a percentage of GDP, and reduced the budget deficit from £50.8 billion in 1993 to £15.5 billion in 1997. Clarke's successor, the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown, continued these policies, which eliminated the deficit by 1998 and allowed Brown to record a budget surplus for the following four years. Interest rates, inflation and unemployment all fell during Clarke's tenure at HM Treasury. Clarke's success was such that Brown felt he had to pledge to keep to Clarke's spending plans and these limits remained in place for the first two years of the Labour Government that was elected in 1997.[13]

Single Currency: free hand and referendum pledge

The matter of a referendum on Britain joining the planned euro – first raised by Margaret Thatcher in 1990 – was, after much press speculation, raised again at Cabinet by Douglas Hogg in the spring of 1996, very likely (in Clarke's view) with Major's approval; Clarke records that Heseltine spoke "with passionate intensity" at Cabinet against a referendum, believing both that referendums were pernicious and that no concession would be enough to please the Eurosceptics. Clarke, who had already threatened resignation over the issue, also opposed the measure and, although Clarke and Heseltine were in a small minority in Cabinet, Major once again deferred a decision.

Major, Heseltine and Clarke eventually reached agreement in April 1996, in what Clarke describes as "a tense meeting ... rather like a treaty session", that there would be a commitment to a referendum before joining the euro, but that the pledge would be valid for one Parliament only (i.e. until the general election after next), with the Government's long-term options remaining completely open; Clarke threatened to resign if this formula were departed from.[34]

Clarke, writing in 2016 after the Brexit Referendum, comments that he and Heseltine later agreed that they had separately decided to give way because of the pressure Major was under, and that the referendum pledge "was the biggest single mistake" of their careers, giving "legitimacy" to such a device.[34]

In December 1996, after Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind had commented that it was unlikely that the government would join the euro, Clarke and Heseltine took to the airwaves – in apparent unison – to insist that the government retained a free choice as to whether or not to join, angering Eurosceptics.[35] When Tory Party Chairman, Brian Mawhinney, was understood to have briefed against him, Clarke declared: "tell your kids to get their scooters off my lawn" – an allusion to Harold Wilson's rebuke of Trades Union leader Hugh Scanlon in the late 1960s.

Role as a backbencher

After the Conservatives entered opposition in 1997, Clarke contested the leadership of the Party for the first time. In 1997, the electorate being solely Tory Members of Parliament, he topped the poll in the first and second rounds. In the third and final round he formed an alliance with Eurosceptic John Redwood, who would have become Shadow Chancellor and Clarke's deputy, were he to have won the contest. However, Thatcher endorsed Clarke's rival William Hague, who proceeded to win the election comfortably. The contest was criticised for not involving the rank-and-file members of the Party, where surveys showed Clarke to be more popular. Clarke rejected the offer from Hague of a Shadow Cabinet role, opting instead to return to the backbenches.

Clarke contested the party leadership for a second time in 2001. Despite opinion polls again showing he was the most popular Conservative politician with the British public,[13] he lost in a final round among the rank-and-file membership, a new procedure introduced by Hague, to a much less experienced, but strongly Eurosceptic rival, Iain Duncan Smith. This loss, by a margin of 62% to 38%, was attributed to the former Chancellor's strong pro-European views being increasingly out-of-step with the party members' Euroscepticism.[13] His campaign was managed by Andrew Tyrie.

Clarke opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After choosing not to stand for the leadership after Duncan Smith departed in 2003 in the interests of party unity, he returned to fight the 2005 leadership election. He still retained huge popularity among voters, with 40% of the public believing he would be the best leader.[36] He was accused by Norman Tebbit of being "lazy" whilst leadership rival Sir Malcolm Rifkind suggested that Clarke's pro-European views could have divided the Conservative Party had Clarke won.[37] In the event, Clarke was eliminated in the first round of voting by Conservative MPs. Eventual winner David Cameron appointed Clarke to head a Democracy Task Force as part of his extensive 18-month policy review in December 2005, exploring issues such as the reform of the House of Lords and party funding. Clarke is President of the Tory Reform Group, a liberal, pro-European ginger group within the Conservative Party.

Clarke became known as "an economic and social liberal, an internationalist and a strong supporter of the European idea".[38]

In 2006, he described Cameron's plans for a British Bill of Rights as "xenophobic and legal nonsense".[39]

Expenses scandal

Main article: United Kingdom parliamentary expenses scandal

On 12 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Clarke had "flipped" his Council Tax. He had told the Parliamentary authorities that his main home was in the Rushcliffe constituency, enabling him to claim a second-home allowance on his London residence, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill for Council Tax due on that property. However, he told Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire that he spent so little time at his constituency address that his wife Gillian should qualify for a 25% Council Tax (single person's) discount, saving the former Chancellor around £650 per year. Land Registry records showed that Clarke no longer had a mortgage on his Nottinghamshire home where he has lived since 1987. Instead he held a mortgage on his London property, which was being charged to the taxpayer at £480 per month.[40]

Return to the frontbench

In 2009, Clarke became Shadow Business Secretary in opposition to the then-Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson. David Cameron described Clarke as about the only one able to challenge Mandelson and Brown's economic credibility. Two days later it was revealed that Clarke had warned in a speech a month earlier that President Barack Obama could see David Cameron as a "right-wing nationalist" if the Conservatives maintained Eurosceptic policies and that Obama would "start looking at whoever is in Germany or France if we start being isolationist".[41] The Financial Times said "Clarke has in effect agreed to disagree with the Tories' official Eurosceptic line".[42]

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary

Clarke's portrait as Lord Chancellor, 2011

On 12 May 2010, Clarke's appointment as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in the Coalition Government formed between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties.[43] James Macintyre, political editor of Prospect, argued that in this ministerial role he had instigated a process of radical reform.[44]

In June 2010, Clarke signalled an end to short prison sentences after warning it was "virtually impossible" to rehabilitate any inmate in less than 12 months. In his first major speech after taking office, Clarke indicated a major shift in penal policy by saying prison was not effective in many cases. This could result in more offenders being handed community sentences. Clarke, who described the current prison population of 85,000 as "astonishing", received immediate criticism from some colleagues in a Party renowned for its tough stance on law and order. He signalled that fathers who fail to pay child maintenance, disqualified drivers and criminals fighting asylum refusals could be among the first to benefit and should not be sent to prison.[45]

Clarke announced in February 2011 that the Government intended to scrutinise the relationship between the European Court of Human Rights and national parliaments.[46]

In May 2011, controversy related to Clarke's reported views on sentencing for those convicted of rape resurfaced after an interview on the radio station BBC 5 Live, where he discussed a proposal to increase the reduction of sentences for criminals, including rapists, who pleaded guilty pre-trial, from a third to a half.[47] In the interview he incorrectly[48] asserted that the reason for the low average sentence of those convicted of rape was that legal definition of "rape" in England and Wales included such less serious offences as consensual sex between a 17 year old and a 15 year old.

In 2011 and 2012, Clarke faced criticism for his Justice and Security Bill, in particular those aspects of it that allow secret trials when "national security" is at stake.[49][50] The Economist stated: "the origins of the proposed legislation lie in civil cases brought by former Guantánamo detainees, the best-known of whom was Binyam Mohamed, alleging that government intelligence and security agencies (MI6 and MI5) were complicit in their rendition and torture".[51][52] Prominent civil liberties and human rights campaigners argued: "the worst excesses of the war on terror have been revealed by open courts and a free media. Yet the Justice and Security Green Paper seeks to place Government above the law and would undermine such crucial scrutiny."[53]

Minister without Portfolio

Clarke in 2012

Following the 2012 Cabinet reshuffle, Clarke was moved from Justice Secretary to Minister without Portfolio. It was also announced that he would assume the role of roving Trade Envoy with responsibility for promoting British business and trade interests abroad, a position which he enjoyed.

In the 2014 Cabinet reshuffle, after more than 20 years serving as a Minister, it was announced that Clarke had stepped down from government, to return to the backbenches.[54] Clarke was honoured with appointment as a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, upon the Prime Minister's recommendation, in July 2014.[55] His total time as a government minister is the fifth-longest in the modern era after Winston Churchill, Arthur Balfour, Rab Butler, and The Duke of Devonshire.[56]

Return to the backbench

Clarke was opposed to Brexit during the 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom's continued membership of the European Union, and opposed the holding of the referendum in the first place.[57] He was the sole Conservative MP to vote against the triggering of Article 50.[58]

During the 2016 Conservative Party leadership election Clarke was interviewed by Sky News on 5 July 2016 and made negative comments to Sir Malcolm Rifkind,[59] about the "fiasco" (leadership contest) and about three of the candidates. In a widely circulated video clip, he referred to Theresa May as a "bloody difficult woman", joked that Michael Gove, who was "wild", would "go to war with at least three countries at once" and characterised some of the utterances of Andrea Leadsom as "extremely stupid". Clarke added that Gove "did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of Boris as prime minister is ridiculous."[60]

In February 2017, following the death of Sir Gerald Kaufman, Clarke became Father of the House. He was re-elected as an MP in the 2017 general election.

In December 2017, he voted along with fellow Conservative Dominic Grieve and nine other Conservative MPs against the government, and in favour of guaranteeing Parliament a "meaningful vote" on any Brexit deal Britain agrees with the European Union.[61]

Clarke endorsed Rory Stewart during the 2019 Conservative leadership election.[62]

In September 2019, after Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a number of key votes in the House of Commons, Clarke stated that it would be "not inconceivable" for him to become Prime Minister leading a government of national unity in order to revoke Article 50 and prevent Brexit. Other politicians who were suggested for such a role at the time included Harriet Harman, his female counterpart as Mother of the House of Commons. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson supported the proposal, though Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, both dismissed the suggestion.[63] As it turned out, a vote of no-confidence was not in fact tabled against Boris Johnson's government and no such government of national unity was formed or took office.

Sitting as an Independent

Clarke on the backbench with Theresa May, Sir Alan Duncan and Liam Fox, 19 October 2019

Main article: 2019 suspension of rebel Conservative MPs

On 3 September 2019, Clarke joined 20 other rebel Conservative MPs to vote against the Conservative government of Boris Johnson.[64] The rebel MPs voted against a Conservative motion which subsequently failed. Effectively, they helped block Johnson's no-deal Brexit plan from proceeding on 31 October.[65] Subsequently, all 21 were advised that they had lost the Conservative whip[66][67] and were expelled as Conservative MPs, requiring them to sit as independents.[68][69] If they decided to run for re-election in a future election, the party would block their selection as Conservative candidates, though Clarke opted not to do so.[65]

On the edition of 3 September of BBC's Newsnight, Clarke discussed the situation, saying that he no longer recognised the Conservative Party, referring to it as "the Brexit Party, rebadged". His rationale was "It's been taken over by a rather knockabout sort of character, who's got this bizarre crash-it-through philosophy... a Cabinet which is the most right-wing Cabinet any Conservative Party has ever produced."[70] In an interview on 7 September, Clarke rejected the suggestion that, like other former Conservative MPs, he could join the Liberal Democrats, but noted that, if he were to cast "a protest vote", he would "follow the Conservative tradition of voting Lib Dem."[71]

In his capacity as Father of the House, Clarke presided over the House of Commons during the 2019 Speakership election.[72] He then retired from the House of Commons at the 2019 general election. Since Dennis Skinner lost his seat in the election, Sir Peter Bottomley became Father of the House.


In early 2020, Clarke was nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson.[73] On 4 September he was created Baron Clarke of Nottingham, of West Bridgford in the County of Nottinghamshire.[74] Taking the Conservative whip, he made his maiden speech on 28 September 2020.[75]

Corporate, media and other work

Whilst serving as a backbench MP and as a Shadow Cabinet Minister, Clarke accepted several non-executive directorships:

Also as a backbencher, Clarke declared engagement in non-political media work:

Personal life

In 1964, Clarke married Gillian Edwards, a Cambridge contemporary.[87] They had a son and a daughter.[13] Edwards died of cancer in July 2015.[88]

Clarke's enthusiasm for cigars, jazz and motor racing is well known,[13] and he enjoys birdwatching as well as reading political history. He is also popularly recognised for his affection for suede Hush Puppies, a brand of shoe, which became a "trademark" of his during his early ministerial days.[89] His autobiography denies he wore Hush Puppies and says these suede shoes were hand-made by Crockett & Jones.[90]

Clarke is a sports enthusiast, being a supporter of both local football clubs Notts County[91][92] and Nottingham Forest, who offered him a chair,[93] and a former President of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. He is President of both Radcliffe Olympic and the Radcliffe on Trent Male Voice Choir, and a keen follower of Formula One motorsport. He was involved with tobacco giant British American Tobacco's Formula One team British American Racing (BAR) and has attended Grands Prix in support of the BAR team. BAR was sold to Honda in 2005. He also appeared on the podium of the 2012 British Grand Prix to present the first-place trophy to Mark Webber.

He attended the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final and jokingly claims to have been influential in persuading the linesman, Tofiq Bahramov, to award a goal to Geoff Hurst when the England striker had seen his shot hit the crossbar of opponents West Germany, leaving doubt as to whether the ball had crossed the line. Clarke's position in the Wembley crowd was right behind the linesman at the time and he shouted at the official to award a goal.[94]

Clarke is a lover of real ale and has been an active member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).[95] His memoir, Kind of Blue, was published in October 2016.[96]


Insignia of a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (January 2022)


  1. ^ Parliamentary Secretary (1979–81)


  1. ^ "Mr Kenneth Clarke (Hansard)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Structure of the European Movement UK". Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009.
  3. ^ "The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP – GOV.UK". Government of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  4. ^ "My School Days: Ken Clarke". Nottingham Post. 9 June 2014. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014.
  5. ^ Anthony, Andrew (27 March 2005). "Howard's way". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2006. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  6. ^ "News in Brief". The Times. No. 55643. London. 7 March 1963. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Kenneth Clarke". Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Artwork – Portrait of Kenneth Clarke MP". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  9. ^ Murphy, Joe (13 January 2014). "MPs splash out £250,000 of public money on vanity portraits". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Rover Group (Privatisation)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 29 March 1988. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  11. ^ John Campbell, Margaret Thatcher, Volume Two: The Iron Lady (London: Jonathan Cape, 2003), p. 552.
  12. ^ Campbell, p. 552.
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Contender: Kenneth Clarke". BBC News. 2 August 2005. Archived from the original on 23 September 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  14. ^ Rawnsley, Andrew (19 July 2014). "Kenneth Clarke: I had a lot of views, but they didn't coincide with No 10's". The Observer. London. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  15. ^ Malcolm Balen, Kenneth Clarke (London: Fourth Estate, 1994), p. 166.
  16. ^ Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London: HarperCollins, 1993), p. 614.
  17. ^ Campbell, pp. 552–553.
  18. ^ a b c d Campbell, p. 553.
  19. ^ Campbell, pp. 553–554.
  20. ^ a b Campbell, p. 554.
  21. ^ Propper, Carol; Burgess, Simon; Green, Katherine (1 July 2004). "Does competition between hospitals improve the quality of care?: Hospital death rates and the NHS internal market". Journal of Public Economics. 88 (7–8): 1247–1272. doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(02)00216-5. ISSN 0047-2727.
  22. ^ Propper, Carol; Burgess, Simon; Gossage, Denise (1 January 2008). "Competition and Quality: Evidence from the NHS Internal Market 1991–9*" (PDF). The Economic Journal. 118 (525): 138–170. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0297.2007.02107.x. ISSN 1468-0297. S2CID 709809. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  23. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (3 March 2018). "Britain's contaminated blood scandal: 'I need them to admit they killed our son'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Contaminated blood 'cover-up' revealed in Cabinet papers". Sky News. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  25. ^ Johnson, Diana. "Contaminated Blood – Hansard Online". Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  26. ^ May, Theresa. "PM statement on contaminated blood inquiry: 11 July 2017 – GOV.UK". Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  27. ^ "Home – Infected Blood Inquiry". Infected Blood Inquiry. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Ken Clarke criticised for showing 'contempt' at infected blood inquiry". The Guardian. 27 July 2021.
  29. ^ "Infected Blood Inquiry: Former health secretary Ken Clarke failed to present evidence demanded by victims, lawyer says". Sky News. 28 July 2021.
  30. ^ Burgess, Kaya (27 July 2021). "Ken Clarke objects to 'pointless' questions over infected blood scandal". The Times. London.
  31. ^ "Health Lab tests under threat". BBC News. London. 15 February 1999. Archived from the original on 26 May 2004. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  32. ^ Thatcher, Margaret (1993). The Downing Street Years. New York: HarperCollins. p. 914. ISBN 978-0-06-017056-1.
  33. ^ Macintyre, Donald; Brown, Colin (27 June 1995). "PM assails 'malcontent' Redwood". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  34. ^ a b Clarke 2016, pp. 369–372
  35. ^ Crick 1997, pp. 431–433
  36. ^ "Clarke is voter favourite — poll". BBC News. 5 September 2005. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  37. ^ "Tories round on candidate Clarke". BBC News. 4 September 2005. Archived from the original on 11 September 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  38. ^ Stadler, Liliane (6 December 2016). "Ken Clarke's Kind of Blue". OxPol. Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Clarke slams Cameron rights plan". BBC News. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  40. ^ Rayner, Gordon (12 May 2009). "MPs expenses: Ken Clarke's council tax 'flip'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  41. ^ Winnett, Robert (21 January 2009). "Ken Clarke warns Barack Obama could see David Cameron as right wing nationalist". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  42. ^ "Interactive graphics – A Conservative Who's Who". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 10 May 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  43. ^ "Election 2010 – Live coverage – General Election 2010". BBC News. May 2010. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  44. ^ Macintyre, James (2010). "Public service innovators". Ethos. Hook, Hants: Serco. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  45. ^ Whitehead, Tom (30 June 2010). "David Cameron insists short prison sentences to stay". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 3 July 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  46. ^ Stratton, Allegra (21 February 2011). "Kenneth Clarke offers hope to Tory critics of human rights court". The Guardian. London. p. 8. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  47. ^ "In full: Ken Clarke interview on rape sentencing". BBC News. 18 May 2011. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  48. ^ "Ken Clarke clarifies 'serious rape' remarks". BBC News. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2023. BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said Mr Clarke had, in any case, not been correct to suggest consensual sex with a 15-year-old would be rape – under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 children under 13 are presumed to be incapable of giving their consent to sex. Sex with a 15-year-old would amount to another sexual offence which carries a lower penalty.
  49. ^ Rozenberg, Joshua (16 November 2011). "The justice and security green paper is an attack on liberty". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  50. ^ "Ken Clarke's justice bill passed despite 'attacks'". BBC News. 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  51. ^ "A question of balance". The Economist. London. 2 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 June 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  52. ^ Cobain, Ian (9 April 2012). "Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials". The Guardian. London. p. 1. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  53. ^ Chakrabarti, Shami; Davis, David; Kennedy, Helena; Macdonald, Ken; Mercer, Nicholas; Rose, Dinah (6 March 2012). "Secrets and scrutiny (Letter)". The Guardian. London. p. 35. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  54. ^ "Ken Clarke given trade envoy role". BBC News. 12 October 2012. Archived from the original on 5 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  55. ^ "Kenneth Clarke appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour". Prime Minister's Office. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  56. ^ Parkinson, Justin (13 June 2013). "Chasing Churchill: Ken Clarke climbs ministerial long-service chart". BBC News. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  57. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. London. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  58. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (7 December 2016). "MPs vote to demand Brexit plan and say article 50 should be triggered by end March". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  59. ^ "Ken Clarke caught on camera ridiculing Conservative leadership candidates – but Sky News face backlash after releasing footage". The Telegraph. London. 5 July 2016. Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  60. ^ Mason, Rowena; Asthana, Anushka (5 July 2016). "Ken Clarke caught on camera ridiculing Conservative leadership candidates". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 16 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  61. ^ Austin, Henry (13 December 2017). "Brexit vote: The 11 Tory rebel MPs who defeated the Government". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  62. ^ Walker, Peter (9 June 2019). "Tory leadership contest: where do things stand?". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  63. ^ "Clarke: I wouldn't rule out becoming PM". BBC News. 16 August 2019. Archived from the original on 21 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  64. ^ "Boris Johnson to table motion for election after failed vote – as it happened". the Guardian. 4 September 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  65. ^ a b The Daily Telegraph Archived 5 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine, Boris Johnson to strip 21 Tory MPs of the Tory whip in parliamentary bloodbath
  66. ^ "What is removing the whip, filibustering and other Brexit jargon?". BBC Newsbeat. 4 September 2019. Archived from the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  67. ^ Wire (5 April 2021). "West Bridgford Nottingham News | West Bridgford Wire". Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  68. ^ "Whips". Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  69. ^ "Boris Johnson to seek election after rebel Tories deliver Commons defeat". Archived from the original on 3 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  70. ^ "'It's the Brexit Party rebadged': Tory grandee Kenneth Clarke among 21 rebels". ITV News. 4 September 2019. Archived from the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  71. ^ Rawnsley, Andrew; Helm, Toby (7 September 2019). "Ken Clarke: I am not sure yet, but I may protest and vote Lib Dem". The Observer. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019.
  72. ^ Syal, Rajeev (5 November 2019). "Speaker Hoyle promises humour and quiet words". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  73. ^ "Brexit critics Hammond and Clarke set for peerages". BBC News. 6 February 2020. Archived from the original on 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  74. ^ "No. 28388". The Edinburgh Gazette. 8 September 2020. p. 1470.
  75. ^ Clarke, Kenneth (28 September 2020). "Maiden speech in the House of Lords". Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  76. ^ "Unknown title". British American Tobacco.[permanent dead link]
  77. ^ Monbiot, George (23 August 2005). "BAT role makes Clarke unfit for office". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  78. ^ "Hedge fund Centaurus appoints Ken Clarke as adviser". Reuters. 1 June 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  79. ^ "Agcapita Partners LP". Farmland Investment Partnership. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  80. ^ "Kenneth Clarke MP". TheyWorkForYou. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  81. ^ "Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards — Complaint against Mr Kenneth Clarke". United Kingdom Parliament. 11 July 1997. Archived from the original on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2017. Mr Clarke subsequently explained that he and Mr Blair considered that they were attending the conference as representatives of the Government and the Opposition respectively, and stated that "I was quite confident that I was at the time meeting the rules applying to Ministers, and it did not occur to me that the new rules concerning registration could apply to this visit".
  82. ^ "Register of Members' Interests". United Kingdom Parliament. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  83. ^ "His secret's out: how Georgie met Kissinger". London Evening Standard. 15 August 2008. p. 14. Ken Clarke, Peter Mandelson and former mandarin Lord Kerr were also among the select group of British figures at the gathering of politicians and tycoons.
  84. ^ Duffy, Jonathan (3 June 2004). "Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2008. The group, which includes luminaries such as Henry Kissinger and former UK chancellor Kenneth Clarke, does not even have a website.
  85. ^ "Kenneth Clarke: Full register of members' interests". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 5–8 June 2008, to Chantilly, Virginia, USA, to attend Bilderberg Conference. Hotel accommodation paid for by the conference sponsors. (I paid my travel costs.) (Registered 12 June 2008)
  86. ^ "Register of Members' Interests". Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  87. ^ "Is there more to Ken the Bloke?". The Daily Telegraph. London. 23 July 2001. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  88. ^ "Gillian Clarke: Historian, political activist and quilt-maker who stood at Ken Clarke's right hand for more than half a century". The Independent. London. 14 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  89. ^ Naughton, Philippe (14 May 2010). "Ken Clarke sheds Hush Puppies for new job". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011.(subscription required)
  90. ^ Ken Clarke 2016
  91. ^ The Notts County Miscellany by David Clayton, The History Press, 17 March 2017
  92. ^ Chandhoke, Harcharan (4 June 2001). "Kenneth Clarke: I was there when . . ". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  93. ^ "Football: Forest offer chair to Kenneth Clarke". 23 June 1997. Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  94. ^ Chandhoke, Harcharan (4 June 2001). "I was there when... England won the World Cup". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  95. ^ Hall, Sarah (6 August 2002). "Campaign to include women in real ale round". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  96. ^ Clarke, Ken (6 October 2016). Kind of Blue: A Political Memoir. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-5098-3724-3.
  97. ^ Rozenberg, Joshua (13 May 2010). "Ken Clarke is a good fit for the Ministry of Justice". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  98. ^ "Honorary Graduates of the University of Nottingham" (PDF). University of Nottingham. October 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 January 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  99. ^ "Ex-chancellor awarded honorary fellowship by CIoT". Chartered Institute of Taxation. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  100. ^ "Kenneth Clarke – Honorands". University of Derby. November 2017. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  101. ^ "The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke CH QC MP". Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.



Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byAntony Gardner Member of Parliament for Rushcliffe 19702019 Succeeded byRuth Edwards Political offices Preceded byJohn Gummer Paymaster General 1985–1987 Succeeded byPeter Brooke Preceded byNorman Tebbit Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1987–1988 Succeeded byTony Newton Preceded byJohn Moore Secretary of State for Health 1988–1990 Succeeded byWilliam Waldegrave Preceded byJohn MacGregor Secretary of State for Education and Science 1990–1992 Succeeded byJohn Patten Preceded byKenneth Baker Home Secretary 1992–1993 Succeeded byMichael Howard Preceded byNorman Lamont Chancellor of the Exchequer 1993–1997 Succeeded byGordon Brown Second Lord of the Treasury 1993–1997 Preceded byGordon Brown Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 1997 Succeeded byPeter Lilley Preceded byAlan Duncanas Shadow Secretary of State for Business,Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Shadow Secretary of State for Business,Innovation and Skills 2009–2010 Succeeded byThe Lord Mandelson Preceded byJack Straw Secretary of State for Justice 2010–2012 Succeeded byChris Grayling Lord Chancellor 2010–2012 Honorary titles Preceded bySir Gerald Kaufman Father of the House of Commons 2017–2019 Succeeded bySir Peter Bottomley Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Preceded byThe Lord Walney GentlemenBaron Clarke of Nottingham Followed byThe Lord Sarfraz