No 10 stands by Clarke's accuser

Colin Brown on Sir Nicholas Bonsor, a Tory MP with impeccable credentials
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The Independent Online
Sir Nicholas Bonsor's position appeared to be safe last night in spite of his attack on the Chancellor.

He is known as a Euro-sceptic, but it is highly unlikely he would have spoken out against Mr Clarke without approval.

Sir Nicholas Cosmo Bonsor Bt, 53, MP for Upminster, has impeccable credentials as a Tory knight. Educated at Eton and Keble College, Oxford, Sir Nicholas was born into the Hambro banking family, he married the daughter of the second Baron Killearn, and he farms 800 acres in Bedfordshire.

Built like a prize bull, he was renowned for his strength at university, and was a rowing "blue". His closest friends include Nicholas Soames, another larger-than-life hunting, shooting and fishing Tory.

As chairman of the cross-party Commons Select Committee on Defence, Sir Nicholas, a former officer with the Royal Bucks Yeomanry, earned a reputation for hard-hitting reports condemning the Treasury's cuts in defence spending, causing "overstretch" in the forces.

He believes women should stay at home and rear the children (he has five). His open detestation of "screeching and squawking" feminists is not normally conducive to quick promotion at Westminster.

As he demonstrated yesterday, he is not shy about proclaiming controversial views. He once rebelled against increases in top people's pay and opposed a government measure to control guns. He voted three times against the Government on the Bill implementing the Maastricht treaty.

But John Major has plainly forgiven him all those misdemeanours. The Prime Minister's office dismissed suggestions that the Minister of State at the Foreign Office should resign over his extraordinary assault on the Chancellor. "The matter does not arise," said a source.

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