Monday 5 October 2009

CLARKE: We must avoid British arrogance

Ken Clarke was lapping up the limelight as a meeting he attended to discuss Europe just now was rammed with onlookers – people couldn’t get in the room.

When he was walking up the stairs he was ambushed by a crowd of reporters asking him about his views on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Once inside he trotted out the line that the Tories had a defined policy on Europe that he wouldn’t try to change – and then went on to launch a stiff defence of the European project.

The meeting – entitled Europe means Business: How can the EU best stimulate economic recovery? saw Clarke talking up cooperation on regulation.

He said that the UK must avoid “British arrogance” – words bound to grate on many Tories – in telling France and Germany how to run financial markets.

He added that the British and American systems had undergone a “catastrophic failure” and so it was understandable for Europeans to be reluctant to take lessons from us.

Finally he praised European President Jose Manuel Barroso saying he had made more progress in deregulating markets than any single Government had individually.

Mandelson will be licking his lips knowing Clarke is keeping the European issue live.

It’s the old dilemma for Cameron rearing its head in the ugliest way – as shadow business secretary Clarke cannot say nothing. But there is nothing Clarke can say, given his known views, that wouldn’t cause a storm.

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