David Cameron did not discuss EU referendum with his Cabinet before he called it, claims Ken Clarke

Cameron's Cabinet meetings described as 'a disastrous way to run the government of a complex modern nation state'

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David Cameron never discussed his decision to call a referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union with his Cabinet, former Tory Cabinet minister Ken Clarke has claimed.

The 76-year-old Tory veteran criticised how Mr Cameron ran his Cabinet meetings, which he said met for 90 minutes one morning each week.

In his book, which is being serialised by The Sunday Times, Mr Clarke wrote: "This was an almost comically inadequate time within which to discuss any important subject."

He also described how "various junior ministers were invited to attend cabinet, although most of them were not expected to say anything" because the room was "always extremely crowded".

Ken Clarke questions parliamentary democracy in listening to EU referendum result

In particular, he said Mr Cameron failed to adequately discuss "his startling and catastrophic decision to call a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU in cabinet".

"In my opinion, this is a disastrous way to run the government of a complex modern nation state," he said. "It is a reaction to the hysterical constant 24/7 chatter that now dominates political debate.

"Media handling and public relations are now regarded as the key elements of governing, and a small army of advisers who are supposed to be PR experts but who are of frankly variable quality have far too big a role in policy-making.

"Next week’s headlines are given more priority than serious policy development and the long-term consequences for the nation."

In his book, Kind of Blue: A Political Memoir, Mr Clarke also made the claim that Downing Street told Question Time he was ill and unable to attend a show to keep him off air.

He described it as "a silly and childish incident" and added: "I was, however, particularly annoyed about being plotted against and deceived, and my personal attachment to continued office in the government was undoubtedly diminished."