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Clarke admits that Tories won't re-open Lisbon if it is ratified by the Irish

ClarkeQuote Interviewed by Jon Sopel on BBC1's Politics Show, Ken Clarke MP has admitted that the Tories will not seek to reopen Lisbon if, as polls predict, the Treaty is ratified by Ireland.  Up until now Conservative spokesmen, including William Hague and David Cameron, have replied with "we will not let matters rest there".  Mr Clarke suggests that those seven words mean "discussing the division of competences between member states and the European Union."

Earlier in the interview Mr Clarke declined to say if Conservatives would enact the 10% cuts implicit in Labour's budget for forthcoming years and also, inexplicably, refused to say if he believed in a smaller state.  He defended the Conservative policy of protecting the NHS from cuts, saying demographic and other pressures explained the special status that Conservatives were giving to this area of public spending.  

Tim Montgomerie

3.30pm: On Sky News Ken Clarke says that he rejoined the frontbench because the Conservative Party is not as Eurosceptic as it was.  Watch here.

3.45pm: Some reactions to Ken Clarke's BBC1 interview:

David Miliband MP: Kenneth Clarke knows that Tory policy 'not to let matters rest' on the Lisbon Treaty is hare-brained and dangerous for British business, but his leader and shadow foreign secretary are committed to it," he said. "The country deserves a clear answer: has Conservative policy flip-flopped, or are the Conservatives just divided and incredible in their foreign policy?"

Nigel Farage MEP: "Ken Clarke has just let the cat out of the bag. The Conservatives have no intention of holding a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and all their promises during the European election campaign about holding one can now be seen to be sheer, brass-necked dishonesty."

Bill Cash MP: "It appears that Kenneth Clarke has reinvented unilaterally Conservative Party policy on the whole of the Lisbon Treaty and European policy."

All taken from a BBC news report.


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