Ex-Chancellor Ken Clarke on life without wife Gillian - 'Losing her was a terrible blow'

Ex-Chancellor Ken Clarke on life without wife Gillian - 'Losing her was a terrible blow'
ken clarke wife gillian
Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 10/12/2022

- 11:31

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:27

The Tory grandee lost Gillian in 2015, after 51 years of marriage.

KEN Clarke has movingly spoken about life following the death of his wife saying: “I never thought I’d outlive her.”

The Tory grandee lost Gillian in 2015, after 51 years of marriage.

Speaking exclusively to Gloria De Piero on GB News, the ex-Chancellor said: “It was a terrible blow. It never crossed my mind that I would outlive her. I just assumed she'd outlive me. Her life was less mad than mine. Although she was a huge, huge importance to my way of life. She gave me a real family life and kept me sane and normal. She handled the appalling problem of being a politician's wife.

NB 1994 LIBRARY FILE PICTURE This photograph of Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke and his wife, Gillian, pictured before he delivered his Budget Speech last year, is transmitted at the request of subscribers. NB 1994 LIBRARY FILE PICTURE
Adam Butler

“She just did it. I stopped making jokes about her being a one parent family bringing up my children, but she was. They saw me at the weekend when they were lucky at the height of my career. She kept me a human being, and she gave me normality in my life. And she had a terrible misfortune. I remember her with gratitude, as well as with great affection. We made our golden wedding. We got 50 years in.”

During a candid interview, Mr Clarke turned to politics and said he was surprised Liz Truss even made it into Cabinet…let alone Number Ten.

He said: “I feel personally sorry for her, and I haven’t fallen out with her. But I was amazed, absolutely amazed when she became leader.

“I was quite surprised she got into the Cabinet but then I was utterly amazed she became Prime Minister. But, then again, I’ve never ever voted for the person who won the leadership until the last one with Rishi. The circus of politics for the last six years has become farcical and the low depths of farce were reached in the last six months until Rishi took over.”

The former Chancellor also said he’d be in favour of scrapping the House of Lords, despite the fact he currently sits in it as a member.

“It’s a ludicrous, inaccurate institution, particularly given our politics has now become populist and polarised,” he said.

“It's not working properly. The idea of abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected institution with proper parliamentary powers and not a weak one is something I'm entirely in favour of. I have been throughout my entire political career.”

Such a move would be an unpopular move with many of his Tory colleagues.

But Mr Clarke says he’s never shied away from conflict.

GB News

Reflecting on his period as a Health Secretary, when he dealt with an ambulance strike, Mr Clarke said: “At times I was hugely unpopular. Politics is a terrible roller coaster and you have to take tough, difficult decisions.

“When I was at the health department there were times I was deeply unpopular. I had the battle with the British Medical Association (BMA), with them launching all kinds of attacks on my reforms which they tried to resist, with very personalised attacks. The BMA was the nastiest and the least decent union of all I had fights with. The worst time was when I had a seven month ambulance strike. We gave the country a much better ambulance service by bringing in the army. But that was hugely unpopular with the public.”

Mr Clarke - who ran for Tory leader three times - often famously delivered the Budget with a glass of scotch.

The 82-year-old says he’d enjoyed a drink EVERY DAY since leaving school and how, even now, he rarely goes to bed without a scotch or brandy and a cigar.

“ I've never had a drinking problem,” he said. “But, socially, I drink. Now as I get older, it’s less, far less, than I used to. But I'm afraid before going to bed at night, it's a late night whisky or late night Brandy with a Havana cigar.

“I find I go to bed later and get up later as I am getting into my 80s now. My lifestyle is changing, but it certainly includes a good stiff whisky or a good stiff Brandy as a nightcap.

“I’ll have red wine when I'm eating. But I only have one meal a day and a couple of glasses of wine. I was a butterball when I was Chancellor. I'm a shadow of the man I was.

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