Clarke to lose £250,000 a year if he wins Tory race

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Indy Politics

Ken Clarke stands to lose £250,000 a year if he wins the election for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

The former Chancellor has made clear to friends he will have to give up all his lucrative directorships, including his role as deputy chairman of British American Tobacco.

Since leaving the Treasury after the Tory defeat in 1997, Mr Clarke has collected a string of well-paid appointments which he declares in the register of members' interests. His paid directorships include non-executive chairman of Unichem, Foreign and Colonial Investment Trust, and Independent News and Media, owners of The Independent on Sunday.

He also declares paid speaking engagements and a weekly commentary for Bloomberg Television. Mr Clarke said last week his directorships would be incompatible with being the Leader of the Opposition. One of his allies said: "His directorships are worth £250,000 to £300,000, but that is the price he's prepared to pay."

Two more Portillo supporters have given their backing to Mr Clarke's campaign. Richard Ottoway, a former aide to Michael Heseltine, announced his support on Friday, and Andrew McKay, the party's former Northern Ireland spokesman, is expected to declare for Mr Clarke.

Mr Clarke and his rival, Iain Duncan Smith, have agreed to suspend hostilities to go on holiday for the first two weeks of August. But some of Mr Clarke's supporters are exasperated by his laid-back approach to the campaign and urged him not to go on holiday to secure votes by mid-August when the ballot forms go out to the 300,000 Tory party members.

"Tory party members pay their bills on time, and they will fill in their ballot forms and send them off as soon as they get them," said a Clarke supporter. However, Mr Clarke insists that most of Tory members will be away on holiday in August, and campaigning would be futile.

It also emerged that a homophobic poison pen letter attacking Michael Portillo was sent to some Tory MPs on the day of the final ballot last week. A former minister who received it said: "It didn't make any difference to the way I voted. I put it in the bin. But it may have made others think twice."