Kenneth Clarke was born on 2 July 1940 in Nottingham.
Ken Clarke was elected Conservative MP for Rushcliffe at the 1970 General Election.
After a succession of appointments in and out of government, Ken Clarke was made Minister for Health in March 1982.
One of the issues that came under Kenneth Clarke’s remit was a drug called Opren, which had led to 4000 official reports of alleged adverse reactions including 76 deaths. According to former MP Jack Ashley, in his autobiography, ‘Acts of Defiance’:
“The Minister for Health, Kenneth Clarke, complacently dismissed the tortured reactions of Opren sufferers as ‘no more than the patient becoming lobstered’. His blithe suggestion that they could use sun-screens or simply stay out of the sunlight revealed deplorable ignorance.”
In September 1985, Kenneth Clarke was appointed to the Cabinet as Paymaster General and Minister for Employment. He was then appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Trade and Industry following the June 1987 General Election.
The late eighties and early nineties saw Ken Clarke rise up the political ranks. From July 1988 to November 1990 he was Secretary of State for Health, and then took over as Secretary of State for Education and Science, until April 1992 when he landed the post of Secretary of State for the Home Office.
Kenneth Clarke was Chancellor of the Exchequer from May 1993 until the General Election in May 1997, when the Conservatives were defeated by New Labour under Tony Blair.
Still an MP, Clarke has various roles in the business world, including being Deputy Chairman of British American Tobacco Plc and non-executive Chairman of Alliance Unichem Plc.
Various media commentators have alluded to Ken Clarke’s passion for small cigars, hush-puppies, jazz, and the odd pint of beer.
Kenneth Clarke chairs the Conservative Party’s democracy taskforce.
On 19 January 2009, Kenneth Clarke rejoined the Conservative Party’s front bench team, as shadow business secretary.
In May 2010, after the Conservatives, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, formed a new government Kenneth Clarke was appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
In 2017, Ken Clarke was the only Conservative MP to vote against the bill allowing the government to trigger Article 50, at the start of Brexit negotiations.