Ken Clarke mocks Brexiteers and says Tories have become ‘mildly anti-immigrant’
‘Apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and you emerge in a wonderland!’
Former Tory cabinet minister Ken Clarke has mocked pro-Brexit Tory MPs for behaving like Alice In Wonderland.
In a bold Commons speech, he also attacked his own party - saying its "mildly anti-immigrant" transformation would have shocked Enoch Powell.
Clarke spoke out as MPs debated for the first time the Government's Article 50 bill to trigger Brexit. He delivered a staunch defence of the European Union and confirmed he planned to vote against triggering Article 50.
Clarke said he wanted Brexit to succeed, but also made fun of ardent eurosceptics who suggest that EU withdrawal will be easy.
“Apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and you emerge in a wonderland, where suddenly countries around the world are queuing up with trading advantages and access to their markets,” he said, to laughter in the chamber.
“Nice men like President Trump, President Erdoğan, are just impatient to abandon their normal protectionism and give us access.”
He added: “No doubt somewhere there is a Hatter holding a tea party with a dormouse.”
The former chancellor rejected the suggestion he was being disloyal to his party.
“I am merely propounding the official policy of the Conservative party for 50 years until the 23 June, 2015,” he said.
“I admire my colleagues who can suddenly become enthusiastic Brexiteers, having see a light on the road to Damascus. That light has been denied me.”
He said the turn towards euroscepticism within his party would surprise even Powell, famed for his controversial ‘rivers of blood’ speech.
“He probably would find it amazing to believe that his party had become eurosceptic, and rather mildly anti-immigrant in a really strange way in 2016,” said Clarke.
He added: "Well I’m afraid on that I haven’t followed them, and I don’t intend to do so."