Tory big beast Ken Clarke has denounced the DUP as a “sectarian Protestant party in Ireland” and lamented the time which the prime minister is spending courting Arlene Foster and her colleagues.
The former Conservative chancellor and veteran pro-EU Tory standard-bearer made the comment during a forthright interview on Sky News yesterday morning.
Discussing the state of the Tories and the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, he said of Theresa May: “She’s still going back to the DUP, trying to satisfy their unbelievably silly points on the Irish backstop ... she spends all her time on party management, trying to keep hardline Brexiteers and this sectarian Protestant party in Ireland onside.”
The comment is reminiscent of a 2010 remark from Mr Clarke when he talked about the possibility of a hung Parliament leading to a deal with the DUP. At that point he said: “In the end you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman, but it’s not the way to run a modern, sophisticated society.”
In a statement, DUP MP Gregory Campbell responded: “Standing up for the national interests of this country and working to get the best deal for all is the very antithesis of sectarianism. Ken Clarke should reflect on what he has said.”
He added: “Ken Clarke, very unfortunately for him, finds himself increasingly out of step with the vast majority in his own party as well as the country.
“Instead of swiping at other parties, Mr Clarke would be better served in working to find solutions, with members across the House of Commons during this crucial time to get the best deal for the United Kingdom, that would be a more fitting tribute and better accolade for the Father of the House.”