The UK is ‘dangerously close to elected dictatorship’ under Boris Johnson, Ken Clarke has warned, as he labelled current Brexit talks by the government as “laughable”.
The veteran Tory politician said the prime minister is showing impatience towards “constitutional constraints” and “gets angry if the courts of parliament try to interfere”.
“As the elected prime minister, he thinks he should not be impeded in these ways. We are now getting dangerously close to the ‘elected dictatorship’ that Lord Hailsham, the former lord chancellor, warned us about half a century ago,” Lord Clarke said.
‘We need a written constitution’
He added: “We have relied for too long on a Victorian ideal of what we used to call decent chaps doing the right thing to keep our constitutional principles intact.
“We have got to the point where we need a serious written constitution. We need to restore the strengths of the Commons and the Lords by putting their powers into statutory reforms.
“We are at the absurd point where it is up to the government whether extremely contentious pieces of legislation get to be debated at all.”
In an interview with The New European, Clarke expressed dissatisfaction with Tories now being “more nationalist than at any time in my lifetime”.
Clarke warned Johnson’s Brexit will be the cause of the biggest “long-term scarring”, citing official data showing a drop in GDP twice as bad as the pandemic impact.
‘My party has never been more right-wing and nationalist in my lifetime’
He also showed discontent about moderate Tories like him being isolated through the current party direction, saying the effect was “spectacularly” visible in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. “I considered myself to be in the mainstream of the party and am not pleased that people who think like me – internationalist, outward-looking, progressive – have been marginalised.
“The party is now more right wing and nationalist than at any time in my lifetime.”
Clarke said the “global Britain” promise by the Tories is a “slogan” and “an excuse for spending money on a royal yacht and flying the flag in odd places”. “We have to get used to our reduced role in the world,” the peer said.
And he warned the government’s handling of the Northern Ireland Protocol is posing a serious threat to both the Good Friday Agreement and security cooperation.
‘Dreadful Brexit deal’
He added: “Boris made a dreadful deal, but people voted for it because at that point they just wanted any deal.
“They weren’t prepared, for instance, for the problems in relation to the Irish border.”
Clarke also accused Boris Johnson of attempting to “tear up” his Brexit agreement and, at the same time, finding a way of doing so in a way that the government can blame it on the French.
“I only hope that they have got experts working behind the scenes on an alternative plan. A lot of what is being said at the moment is laughable,” he said.