Published On: Wed, Oct 30th, 2019

VIDEO: Ken Clarke asks his last-ever question in PMQs as tributes flood in for veteran MP | Politics | News

Ken Clarke asked his last-ever question to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons’ weekly session on Wednesday. Mr Clarke, known as the Father of the House as he is the longest-standing male MP in the Commons, has said he will step down as an MP. He previously said he would not run again during the 2015 election campaign – then decided to run during Theresa May’s surprise snap 2017 ballot.  

Addressing MPs in the Commons, Mr Clarke opened his remarks by paying tribute to the Speaker John Bercow.

He said: “During your decade, there have been unprecedented attempts really to try to, at times, increase the power of the Executive at the expense of this Parliament, and you have been very formidable in maintaining the duty of government to be accountable to this House. I trust your successor will try to live up to your very considerable achievement.”

Mr Clarke used his final question to call on Mr Johnson to explain what he hopes to achieve “if, by chance, he wins this unpredictable general election” in terms of the future relationship with the EU.

He said: “Can I ask my right honourable friend to give me some clarity on what he would seek to achieve if, by chance, he wins this unpredictable general election by way of the permanent relationship that he will have to negotiate with the European Union.” 

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He said the UK should maintain trade and investment in an arrangement “as near as possible” to the single market and customs union.

Mr Johnson said: “If, as I’m sure they will, the talks go well, we will have a zero tariff, zero quota arrangement with our European friends and partners. But we will also, under the current deal which is a fantastic deal, be able to do free trade deals around the world.”

MPs applauded Mr Clarke as Mr Bercow paid tribute to him in the Commons.

Mr Bercow said the Tory grandee, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, is “one of the most popular and respected politicians in our country”.

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