Ken Clarke has condemned the ‘blatant lies’ being told by MPs about the reasons for proroguing parliament, after Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed public objection to the move as a ‘candyfloss of outrage’.
The hard Brexiteer MP had told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the reasons for proroguing parliament were merely procedural and had nothing to do with an attempt to frustrate MPs’ involvement with Brexit decision-making.
But Clarke hit back, saying: “We are being told blatant lies.
“How on earth they can keep a straight face saying it isn’t designed to frustrate Brexit I don’t know. And the argument for it – underlying it – is rather silly.”
Summarising the Brexiteers’ argument for prorogation as “‘oh well,it’s only a convention so it doesn’t count’,” Clarke pointed out that this would dismiss most constitutional convention. “It’s pretty unconstitutional,” he said.
"We're being told told blatant lies."— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) August 29, 2019
Veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke says the government's decision to prorogue Parliament is "outrageous", "unconstitutional" and "designed to frustrate Brexit" #r4today pic.twitter.com/ZojULro9O1
Responding to Rees-Mogg’s claim that there was still plenty of time for Brexit parliamentary business, Clarke
walked through the necessary steps for effective action and said there were just “days” in which to do this.
He described the prorogation as absurd and said Boris Johnson had given in to fanatics.
He said: “He has just given in to the fanatic element of his followers and decided to go hell for leather.
“I hope it will bring together the sensible majority of parliament who will find some alternative.”
When asked if he would serve in a caretaker government under Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, he added: “I would do anything necessary to stop this country going through the childishly disastrous mistake of crashing out with no deal.”
He described talk of caretaker governments as “footnotes”, adding: “The key thing is to decide are we leaving in a sensible way that doesn’t do damage to our economy, or are we actually going to have a referendum and decide whether to leave at all.”
Clarke said the only way to heal the political divisions in the short term would be to have a soft Brexit. “But you might put that deal to a referendum,” he added.
Regardless, he described Johnson as “outrageous”.
“I think Boris is absolutely outrageous,” he said. “[That] sort of petty dictator stuff will bring together the slightly divided majority in the House of Commons.”