THE return of Kenneth Clarke to the Conservative frontbench has inevitably led to huge speculation about his positive European views.
The BBC’s European Editor, Mark Mardell, has posted five questions he would like to ask the new Shadow Business Secretary. But even if he gets the chance, Mr Clarke won’t be able to give meaningful answers – despite his reputation for straight-talking, it would be a bit much to rock the boat so early in his political renaissance.
No one should doubt, though, that his views on the EU and Britain’s membership of the Euro have not changed. And, at this stage of his illustrious career, he hasn’t returned to the Tory front bench to play a bit part to the anti-Europeans.
Although he will be almost 70 at the time of the next election, Ken Clarke may yet be the Chancellor of the Exchequer who takes the UK into the Euro.
If David Cameron comes to power in 2010, he will inherit the worst economic conditions imaginable – in fact, they could be so terrible they are unimaginable at the moment.
The obvious ministerial role for Mr Clarke then would be as Chancellor, where he might be able to instil some confidence at home and, more importantly, abroad.
He would also be in the position – denied to George Osborne and the pretender to the keys of the Treasury, William Hague – to do what they have both insisted they would never do and take Britain into the Euro.
Following E4U’s publication of “Ten Years of the Euro – New Perspectives For Britain”, the case has been growing for considering how membership of the eurozone could be the only way to bring financial stability to this country.
Will Hutton in The Observer has raised the spectre of bankruptcy for Britain if foreign billions are not forthcoming to service the massive debt incurred by the government to bail out the banks.
The antis, encouraged by the BBC, are attempting to divert attention from this crisis by claiming that the eurozone is about to lose at least one country, leading to its collapse, a flight of fancy demolished by Wolfgang Munchau in the FT.
We are in totally uncharted realms and anyone who denies that should take a look at the unprecedented one-day plunge in the price of RBS shares. If the 25 per cent drop in Barclays’ share price was incredible, how can a 70 per cent fall be described?
Those arguing against entry to the Euro are playing politics with the lives of the British people. What makes Ken Clarke so popular a politician is that he won’t do that. He does what he believes is right for the country.