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Former Chancellor Ken Clarke has given an interview to tomorrow’s Times (Saturday) rich in quotes in which he reiterates his support for George Osborne and states again that he does not want a frontbench job.

Here are some of the highlights of what he has to say.

On George Osborne:

“The attacks on George are foolish and I don’t agree with them. I think
he is very good. It would be bizarre for David to move George.
Politically it would look weak. People keep using me as a stick to beat
George with. I’m not particularly flattered. I’ve realised it’s just
Bash George fortnight.”

On Osborne’s warning of a run on the pound:

“I was amazed anybody bought the idea, being spun by Gordon’s people,
that there was some convention that you don’t talk about the pound –
that’s daft. I remember Harold Wilson used to get frightfully upset
about people selling sterling short but that didn’t stop people talking
about the pound because the pound was weak.”

On the leadership’s resistance to promising tax cuts:

“David and George have made us look like a potentially governing
party again but the message has not quite spread to some of my
colleagues. These are the people who think you’ve got to promise tax
cuts to win any election. We’ve fought elections on tax cuts when
you can’t afford them and usually we’ve lost – we did actually win one
in 1992, which was a considerable embarrassment to me when I was
Chancellor because there wasn’t the slightest chance of any tax cuts.”

On refusing to serve on the Opposition frontbench:

“Dave asked me to be Leader of the House when he took over and I said
no. I prefer to be a backbencher. It’s tedious being an opposition
spokesman. You have to do one subject – you can’t suddenly say, ‘Sorry
I’m not here next week, I’m in a forest somewhere in West Africa’.”

On the notion of being Chancellor now:

“It’s a pity I’m not chancellor at a time like this because I like a
crisis. It gets the adrenalin going. This one really is tricky, so it
would be fun to be involved.”

On the notion of being Chancellor in the future:

“It’s rather fanciful to go down that route, but everybody who is
offered the chancellorship thinks about it and of course I wouldn’t
just turn it down peremptorily.”

13 comments for: Ken Clarke reiterates his desire to remain on the backbenches

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