Ken Clarke has suggested that some of his “more right-wing colleagues” in the Conservative Party should defect to UKIP. The comments came during an appearance on the BBC Today programme in which he claimed there was “a wave of almost hysteria” over immigration.
The former Chancellor’s comments came after David Cameron announced he would press ahead with caps on EU immigration despite objections from Brussels. Clarke said he feared the “excitement” caused by right-wingers would make it impossible to continue British membership of the EU.
He also claimed the defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless had come as little surprise to him as he has always thought their views were more in line with those of UKIP.
Clarke said: “All the excitement is caused by right-wing people who want the Prime Minister to make a speech that makes it impossible to negotiate our continued membership… Well, ignore the daft ambitions of people whose main interest is just getting out of Europe. Let’s look after Britain in the modern world.”
Mr Clarke said his views were not out of touch with most Conservatives because everyone agreed the UK needed to curb immigration. He instead warned against putting rules in place that would make continued EU membership impossible: “We have to demonstrate that we are a strong, sensible party that does sensible things on immigration because there isn’t a politician that isn’t in favour of controlling immigration,” he said.
“But what we mustn’t do is start competing with ignorance and bigotry and what we mustn’t do is start doing damage to our economy by imposing restrictions on people we need to come here.
“There is a section of the population that used to support the BNP and so on that is just bigoted and anti-foreigners and there are popular politicians who just arouse prejudice.
“But most people – particularly young people – understand that we are in a global economy. You get used to people who don’t speak your language and you meet people at work who are foreign.”
Clarke is a member of a group of pro-European MPs called Conservative Mainstream, which is believed to have around fifty members. The group rarely makes public statements, choosing instead to work behind the scenes securing a federal Europe. Few members declare involvement to their constituents, Clarke being a notable exception.
The comments came just days after Breitbart London reported the outgoing President of the European Commission warned that curbing immigration would never be tolerated by the EU.