Tory leadership contest ‘a shambles and in danger of becoming tragic farce’

The Conservative leadership contest is "a shambles" and the party has "never seen such a crisis", according to Tory former minister Ken Clarke.

Mr Clarke, MP for Rushcliffe, said he fears the Conservative Party is "tearing itself apart" and that both the Tories and Labour are facing a "very dangerous moment".

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Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab at 'A Better Deal' event at the British Academy, London, outlining opportunities if Parliament rejects the Government's proposed deal, ahead of the House of Commons vote on the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.
File photo dated 10/01/19 of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who has breached House of Commons rules by failing to declare a financial interest within the required time limit, the Commons Standards Committee has found.
Conservative former minister Sam Gyimah who has become the 13th MP to throw their hat into the race to replace Theresa May as party leader, leaves the Sky studios in Osterley, west London after appearing on Sophy Ridge On Sunday where he announced his intention to run.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove speaking at the V&A Museum, London during the Step Up To The Plate event, where food giant Nestle and major supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose pledges to help halve food waste by 2030.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves the cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street, London.
File photo dated 03/05/19 of Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who will warn in a speech to senior security figures, that British nationals could be banned from travelling to the last remaining rebel enclave in Syria under new counter-terror laws.
File photo dated 23/04/19 of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who announced that the care of every patient stuck on segregated wards will be independently reviewed, after a report suggested many vulnerable people are being failed.
British Conservative MP Mark Harper speaks in the Parliament in London
Former cabinet minister, Esther McVey, launches Blue Collar Conservatism at the Houses of Parliament in London today.
Andrea Leadsom arrives at her home in London, she has resigned, saying in a letter to Theresa May "I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result".
Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London.
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Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Clarke said he thinks there are too many candidates running to be the next prime minister.

He said: "It is all a shambles and is in danger of becoming a rather tragic farce unless some order is brought into it. There is nothing I can do about that; the 1922 Committee perhaps should have tightened up the rules before we started."

He went on to say that International Development Secretary Rory Stewart "has a chance" of succeeding Theresa May as the next prime minister and "shake up the present establishment of the party".

He said some of the other candidates had spent more time "getting rid of Theresa May in a rather brutal fashion than they have in concentrating on policy".

Mr Clarke said the idea that Parliament would be unable to stop a push to leave the EU without a deal would be a "constitutional outrage".

He said: "I think the British constitution is stronger than that. A no-deal Brexit is attractive to a lot of people, including a lot of Conservative members, by the sound of it because it sounds like 'Oh, let's cut through all this nonsense, I'm tired of it. Three years of nonsense. Just let's leave', and the assumption is not much would change.

"But leaving means WTO rules – that means tariffs of 20% on our steel exports through Europe, 10% on our cars, and much higher figures on our agricultural exports, it means no agreement on the licensing of medicines, security, policing. It is a dangerous shambles, this no-deal thing.

Mr Clarke added: "I think the party is in a very dangerous moment. Both parties are, I'm willing to say the same with the Labour Party.

"I have never seen the Conservative Party in such a crisis. I do think it is tearing itself apart. It is polarising into simplistic positions."

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