Ken Clarke: Last of the Tory moderates shuffled out of office

Former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke backs ‘reassuring’, ‘responsible’ Rachel Reeves

Former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke has backed Labour’s Rachel Reeves, labelling her “reassuring” and “responsible”.

Lord Clarke, who served as chancellor under John Major from 1993-1997, revealed to the i’s new podcast, “Labour’s Plan for Power”, that he has been impressed by Labour’s shadow chancellor.

Since the 1970s, Clarke has served in the governments of Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron.

Aside from helming the Treasury under Major, Clarke’s esteemed CV includes the posts of home secretary, health secretary, education secretary, justice secretary and paymaster general.

He now sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative.

Speaking to the i, he said he supported Reeves’ “uncompromising” approach to her economy brief, which has included spearheading the decision to water down Labour’s flagship £28 billion green prosperity plan.

At the time, Reeves justified watering down Labour’s green spending commitment by saying such pledges must be consistent with the party’s “fiscal rules”.

Clarke also suggested that Reeves and chancellor Jeremy Hunt represented the same view of how to run the Treasury. He said the shadow chancellor’s macroeconomic policy “matches” Hunt’s.

Clarke told the i: “It’s her party that worries me. Well, it’s almost true in both cases, actually. But if it was Jeremy Hunt and Rachel Reeves, then I don’t think either of the parties would worry me very much.

“I don’t think they disagree on very much. They do, of course, politically, I do myself disagree with some of Rachel’s political views, I’m sure.

He added: “But her actual approach, a responsible approach to macroeconomic policy, matches the responsible approach to macroeconomic policy that Jeremy Hunt has, which is in the present shambles of British and international politics and the dangers of it I find rather reassuring — about the only thing I do find reassuring about this election that’s coming up.”

Clarke also offered his support to Jeremy Hunt amid rumours the chancellor could be reshuffled out of the Treasury in the coming weeks. 

He said: “I think we’ve got a perfectly good Chancellor. I would certainly keep Jeremy there. And I don’t think Rishi disagrees. I’m sure occasionally there’s always strain between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor and sometimes rows.

“But Rishi and Jeremy I think are probably more quite close on economic policy. A perfectly good Chancellor, let him get on with it.”

“I think the demand for a reshuffle is almost as daft as the demand for tax cuts and neither of them will do any good in the sense of winning votes”, he added. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.