Ken Clarke: Speculation over Jacob Rees-Mogg being PM is "silly"

Veteran Conservative Ken Clarke has said speculation over the suitability of Jacob Rees-Mogg for the Tory leadership is "a distraction", adding that his party "tends to have a leadership crisis when it can't think of anything else to do".

In an interview on Niall Paterson on Sunday, Clarke said he suspected Rees-Mogg, whose odds of taking over from Theresa May lengthened last week after comments over abortion, thinks the speculation is "rather a silly question at this stage of his career".

He added that the Tory leadership "should be thinking about... our children and grandchildren, not next week's newspaper headlines".

"[The party should not be saying] can we have fun with a kind of Strictly Come Dancing contest between people who want to be Prime Minister," he said.

"Theresa May is there, there's no prospect of her being replaced by anybody sensible, in any sensible process. For the next two or three years Theresa's got the job of presiding over a smooth transition through a long transition period, to an arrangement that will at least minimise the damage in a few years' time," he added.

Clarke, a vocal opponent to Brexit, said it is now "inevitable" Brexit will happen.

"What we need to do now is respect the practical consequences. What's our new relationship? [Leaving] the Single Market and the Customs Union [doesn't] simply mean we start putting new barriers between ourselves and the biggest single market, the main attraction for investment and so on - that, we can achieve."

But he added the government must be realistic about the consequences of leaving the EU.

"The idea that you jump off the cliff and put out your arms and soar out into the wide blue skies of yonder, with everybody in the world rushing to open up their markets to you - that's just rubbish."

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Full story: Ken Clarke: Speculation over Jacob Rees-Mogg being PM is "silly": City A.M.