The Cabinet needs a reshuffle: It's time for the PM to stand up to Ken Clarke

Obstructive: Justice Secretary Ken Clarke will have to accept the PM's decision if he decides on a reshuffle

Obstructive: Justice Secretary Ken Clarke will have to accept the PM's decision if he decides on a reshuffle

If the Prime Minister wants to reshuffle his Cabinet, he should do it his way and not allow himself to be influenced by stubborn colleagues, however venerable and illustrious, who apparently do not want to budge from their present posts.

It is reported that Kenneth Clarke, 72, who has been a Minister in Tory Governments since 1979, wants to remain in his job as Justice Sercretary and has warned the Prime Minister that to fire him would "retoxify" the Conservative Party.

David Cameron should simply ignore such lurid threats, even from someone so eminent. After all, Clarke has failed every time he sought the Tory Party leadership.

And Clarke, despite his massive ministerial experience, is part of Cameron's problem - one of the reasons the Prime Minister is held in such low esteem by many traditional Conservatives.

This is because Clarke, in addition to being on the very "liberal" wing of the Conservative Party, is also a fervent pro-European - something which plays badly with rank-and-file Tories up and down the country.

Cameron's reshuffle - expected next month - must lean to the right if he is to recover the credibility he so badly needs from his party's membership in the country - and among some MPs at Westminster.

Clarke's age has nothing to do with this. There is still plenty of political life in him yet. It is simply that his position on the left of the party and his devotion to Brussels is badly received by large swathes of the current Conservative Party.

Cameron is the boss, and he should not allow the obduracy of one of his most senior colleagues to divert him from what he wants to do. He should either shift Clarke to another post or throw him out of the Cabinet altogether if that is what he wants to do.

Whatever happens, Clarke must not be allowed to rule the roost.

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