Ken Clarke: Boris Johnson a 'nicer version of Donald Trump'
Conservative grandee Ken Clarke has compared Boris Johnson to controversial Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The former Cabinet minister also suggested the former London mayor's Tory leadership ambitions were behind recent moves by eurosceptic MPs to speak out openly against David Cameron.
In one of the most explicit ‘blue on blue’ attacks in the European Union referendum campaign so far, Mr Clarke said his Conservative colleague could not be trusted to handle the “serious issues” facing the country.
Nadine Dorries, who revealed yesterday she has already called for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, wants Mr Johnson to replace Mr Cameron.
Her announcement prompted Mr Clarke, who supports the UK's membership of the EU, to accuse the Leave campaign of being a “leadership bid for Boris Johnson”.
On the BBC's Today programme this morning, the former Chancellor said: “I think Boris and Donald Trump should go away for a bit and enjoy themselves and not get in the way of serious issues which modern countries in the 21st century face.
“He’s a much nicer version of Donald Trump but the campaign is remarkably similar in my opinion, and about as relevant to the real problems the public face.”
Mr Clarke added that the comments from Ms Dorries and other Conservative backbenchers who have been publicly debating Mr Cameron's future were a "diversion" from the referendum.
“It’s completely unhelpful – not least because it diverts attention from what we ought to be talking about. We ought to be talking about the benefit this country gets, and always has, from being in the EU,” he said.
Mr Clarke's strident criticism follows another pro-EU big hitter, Lord Heseltine, attacking Mr Johnson’s conduct in the referendum campaign.
The former deputy prime minister said “obscene” comments by Mr Johnson had jeopardised his chances of ever winning the Conservative leadership.
“I think that every time he makes one of these extraordinary utterances, people in the Conservative party will question whether he now has the judgement for that role,” he said.