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‘With Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once’: Tory big beast Ken Clarke brands Gove ‘wild’ and Theresa May ‘bloody difficult’ in extraordinary open mic gaffe

  • Former chancellor was gossiping with Sir Malcolm Rifkind in TV studio
  • Unaware of being filmed as he gave candid views on leadership contenders
  • Said Gove was ‘wild’ and would take UK to war with ‘at least three countries’
  • Indiscreet comments emerged as MPs start voting in first round of contest 

The former chancellor warned that the UK would quickly be at war with ‘at least three countries’ if the Justice Secretary wins the race for Downing Street.

He also claimed that Andrea Leadsom did not really want to leave the EU – saying only a ‘tiny mindless band of lunatics’ supported abandoning the single market.

The amazing blunder came as Mr Clarke chatted to Conservative colleague Sir Malcolm Rifkind in a Sky News studio – apparently believing he was not being recorded.

The pair were discussing the leadership contest that will decide who succeeds David Cameron in Downing Street.

Voting is taking place in the first ballot of MPs today – with Mrs May the hot favourite to top the poll.

Ken Clarke: ‘May doesn’t know much about foreign affairs’

During the indiscreet exchanges, Mr Clark said: ‘I don’t think the membership will vote for Gove. I remember being in a discussion about something to do with somewhere like Syria or Iraq and he was so wild that I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox.

‘We were exchanging views and Liam was raising eyebrows.

‘I think with Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once.’

‘He did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of Boris as prime minister is ridiculous,’ he said.

Turning to Ms Leadsom, currently in second place for declared support among MPs, he said: ‘I don’t think either Andrea Leadsom or Boris Johnson actually are in favour of leaving the European Union.

Sir Malcolm interjected: ‘Well I don’t think they even cared very much either way.’

Mr Clarke said: ‘She is not one of the tiny band of lunatics who think we can have a sort of glorious economic future outside the single market.

Mr Clarke's comment about Mrs May being a 'difficult woman' did not go down well with some other prominent female politicians 

‘So long as she understands that she’s not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she’s been saying.’

He gave a grudgingly respectful write-up to Mrs May, saying she was ‘bloody difficult’ and did not know that much about foreign affairs but was ‘good’.

‘Theresa is a bloody difficult woman but you and I worked with Margaret Thatcher,’ he said.

‘I get on all right with her … and she is good.

‘She’s been at the Home Office far too long, so I only know in detail what her views are on the Home Office.

‘She doesn’t know much about foreign affairs.’

Asked about the footage, Sir Malcolm said he stood by his damning remarks on Mr Gove.

‘My comments speak for themselves, and they appear to be shared by quite a high proportion of the human race,’ he said.

The former Cabinet minister said it was ‘naughty’ of Sky News to play the exchange with Mr Clarke, but he did not have a problem with the broadcaster.

‘It all adds to the sum of human life. It was a bit naughty of them,’ Sir Malcolm said.

Mrs May, Mr Gove, Stephen Crabb, and Liam Fox joined other MPs for a karaoke session in Westminster last night – although Andrea Leadsom did not come along.

Tory leadership rivals Theresa May and Michael Gove showed no signs of being worse for wear as they arrived for a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street this morning

Clear lead: In a head to head with Andrea Leadsom Theresa May would win by 63 per cent to 31 per cent in a Tory party members vote, according to a YouGov poll for The Times

 The runners & riders: Who will be the next prime minister?

Sources said Home Secretary Ms May was happy to be ‘serenaded’ at the event but did not take to the microphone herself.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Crabb apparently bravely opted to perform Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

The karaoke, organised by Tory MP Therese Coffey, took place in a fairly cramped office deep in the building.

SAY WHAT YOU REALLY THINK, KEN!

Clarke on Gove:

‘I don’t think the membership will vote for Gove. I remember being in a discussion about something to do with somewhere like Syria or Iraq and he was so wild that I remember exchanging looks with Liam Fox.

‘We were exchanging views and Liam was raising eyebrows.

‘I think with Michael as prime minister we’d go to war with at least three countries at once.’

‘He did us all a favour by getting rid of Boris. The idea of Boris as prime minister is ridiculous.’

Clarke on Leadsom:

‘I don’t think either Andrea Leadsom or Boris Johnson actually are in favour of leaving the European Union.

Mr Rifkind: ‘Well I don’t think they even cared very much either way.’

Mr Clarke: ‘She is not one of the tiny band of lunatics who think we can have a sort of glorious economic future outside the single market.

‘So long as she understands that she’s not to deliver on some of the extremely stupid things she’s been saying.’

Clarke on May:

‘Theresa is a bloody difficult woman but you and I worked with Margaret Thatcher (laughs).

‘I get on all right with her … and she is good.

‘She’s been at the Home Office far too long, so I only know in detail what her views are on the Home Office.

‘She doesn’t know much about foreign affairs.’

It was attended by dozens of politicians eager to let their hair down after a gruelling EU referendum campaign that culminated in David Cameron’s tearful resignation.

The tunes given an airing includes Mr Brightside by the Killers and Bobby Darin’s classic Mack the Knife.

An MP who was there told MailOnline the event was intended as a ‘bit of fun’ between the divisive Brussels vote and what could be an equally divisive leadership battle.

Tories have also been invited to gather to watch the European football championships to help build team spirit recently.

Mr Gove’s decision to turn on Mr Johnson has caused particular bitterness.

One ally of the former mayor has threatened to castrate the Justice Secretary like unfortunate Game of Thrones character Theon Greyjoy.

Another warned there is a ‘very deep pit in Hell’ waiting for Mr Gove after his betrayal.

Mr Johnson told journalists today: ‘Andrea has massive experience of finance, she understands the whole European issue backwards.

‘I think she has got a very positive vision for what Britain can achieve outside the EU.’

The karaoke came hours after an intense hustings session run by the powerful Conservative 1922 committee, on the eve of the first ballot in the crucial race to decide our next Prime Minister.

Each of the candidates were given 15 minutes to set out their case during the behind-closed-doors grilling.

Mrs May, the front runner in the contest, was said to have performed particularly well during her grilling.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard Tweeted: ‘Scorecard (speeches) Gove (6/10), Fox (8/10), May (9/10), Crabb (7/10), Leadsom (6/10).’

Mrs Leadsom’s pitch to MPs was described by her rivals as a ‘car crash’. She told backbenchers that she wanted to discuss three issues: ‘Bankers, Brussels and babies.’

One MP accused her of rambling and said she lost the room when she ‘ended up talking about the frontal cortex of a baby’s brain’.

Another witness added: ‘People were talking to each other and playing on their iPads.’

One cabinet minister told reporters afterwards: ‘Only four out of the five contributions we heard tonight were sane.’

An early poll of Tory members today revealed that Mrs May is ahead of her rivals in every respect, sometimes by more than 50 percentage points.

The Conservative faithful believe she is the strongest leader, the best to negotiate Britain’s EU exit and understands what it takes to win elections.

Andrea Leadsom was at the Commons today casting her vote in the first round ballot

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, who is said to have attempted Don't Stop Me Now by Queen at a karaoke session last night, arrived for Cabinet with ally Sajid Javid (pictured left)

WHO BACKS WHO IN THE TORY LEADERSHIP CONTEST SO FAR

Here are the MPs whose allegiances have been verified by the Press Association:

THERESA MAY (129):

Peter Aldous; Lucy Allan; Heidi Allen; Stuart Andrew; Caroline Ansell; Edward Argar; Harriett Baldwin; Guto Bebb; Richard Benyon; Sir Paul Beresford; James Berry; Andrew Bingham; Nicola Blackwood; Karen Bradley; Steve Brine; James Brokenshire; Robert Buckland; Simon Burns; Neil Carmichael; James Cartlidge; Alex Chalk; Rehman Chishti; Greg Clark; James Cleverly; Therese Coffey; Damian Collins; Tracey Crouch; Byron Davies; Mims Davies; David Davis; Caroline Dinenage; Flick Drummond; Sir Alan Duncan; Jane Ellison; Michael Ellis; Tobias Ellwood; Graham Evans; Michael Fallon; Kevin Foster; George Freeman; Mike Freer; Sir Roger Gale; Sir Edward Garnier; Mark Garnier; Nusrat Ghani; Richard Graham; Helen Grant; Chris Grayling (Proposer); Damian Green; Justine Greening (Seconder); Dominic Grieve; Andrew Griffiths; Ben Gummer; Sam Gyimah; Robert Halfon; Philip Hammond; Stephen Hammond; Matt Hancock; Richard Harrington; Greg Hands; Sir Alan Haselhurst; Oliver Heald; Peter Heaton-Jones; Damian Hinds; George Hollingbery; Kevin Hollinrake; Kris Hopkins; John Howell; Ben Howlett; Nigel Huddleston; Jeremy Hunt; Nick Hurd; Margot James; Jo Johnson; Andrew Jones; David Jones; Marcus Jones; Simon Kirby; Julian Knight; Kwasi Kwarteng; Mark Lancaster; Dr Phillip Lee; Brandon Lewis; David Mackintosh; Alan Mak; Jason McCartney; Patrick McLoughlin; Stephen Metcalfe; Maria Miller; Wendy Morton; David Mundell; Sarah Newton; Caroline Nokes; Jesse Norman; Guy Opperman; Mike Penning; Andrew Percy; Claire Perry; Stephen Phillips; Chris Philp; Sir Eric Pickles; Victoria Prentis; Mark Prisk; Mark Pritchard; Will Quince; Amber Rudd; David Rutley; Antoinette Sandbach; Grant Shapps; Alok Sharma; Alec Shelbrooke; Henry Smith; Julian Smith; Sir Nicholas Soames; Anna Soubry; Mark Spencer; Caroline Spelman; Graham Stuart; Hugo Swire; Maggie Throup; Kelly Tolhurst; Liz Truss; Robin Walker; Chris White; Craig Whittaker; Gavin Williamson; Rob Wilson; Sarah Wollaston; Nadhim Zahawi

ANDREA LEADSOM (40):

Steve Baker; John Baron; Julian Brazier; Andrew Bridgen; David Burrowes; Sir Bill Cash; Philip Davies; Nadine Dorries; James Duddridge; Iain Duncan Smith; Chris Heaton-Harris; James Gray; Chris Green; Gordon Henderson; Stewart Jackson; Bernard Jenkin; Boris Johnson; Tim Loughton; Charlotte Leslie; Julian Lewis; Peter Lilley; Karen Lumley; Penny Mordaunt (Proposer); Anne Marie Morris; James Morris; David Mowat; Sheryll Murray; Andrew Murrison; Owen Paterson; Neil Parish; Dan Poulter; Tom Pursglove; John Redwood; Andrew Rosindell; Bob Stewart; Michael Tomlinson; Craig Tracey; Martin Vickers; Theresa Villiers; William Wragg (Seconder)

MICHAEL GOVE (25):

Adam Afriyie; Sir Henry Bellingham; Nick Boles; Conor Burns; Alberto Costa; George Eustice; Michael Fabricant; Suella Fernandes; Nick Gibb; John Hayes; Andrea Jenkyns; Robert Jenrick; Daniel Kawczynski; Jack Lopresti; Andrew Mitchell; Nicky Morgan (Proposer); Bob Neill; Dominic Raab (Seconder); Jacob Rees-Mogg; Sir Desmond Swayne; Anne Marie Trevelyan; Ed Vaizey; Shailesh Vara; Angela Watkinson; John Whittingdale

STEPHEN CRABB (22):

Alun Cairns; Maria Caulfield; Steve Double; Philip Dunne; John Glen; Luke Hall; Simon Hart; James Heappey; Simon Hoare; Sajid Javid (Proposer); Johnny Mercer; David Morris; Mark Pawsey; Andrew Selous; Chris Skidmore; Chloe Smith (Seconder); Gary Streeter; Julian Sturdy; Edward Timpson; Craig Williams; Mike Wood;Jeremy Wright

DR LIAM FOX (6): 

Robert Goodwill (Proposer); Sir Gerald Howarth; Scott Mann (Seconder); Paul Maynard; David Nuttall; Iain Stewart

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3675197/Tory-big-beast-Ken-Clarke-brands-Michael-Gove-wild-Theresa-bloody-difficult-claims-Andrea-Leadsom-isn-t-really-Eurosceptic-extraordinary-open-mic-gaffe.html

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