Clarke condemns Cameron’s ‘xenophobia’

Ken Clarke has criticised David Cameron for “xenophobic” remarks in a speech about scrapping the Human Rights Act.

The former Conservative chancellor, whose pro-European stance is well documented, said Mr Cameron’s speech, in which he detailed plans for a British bill of rights, was “anti-foreigner”.

Mr Clarke, who lost out to David Cameron in the contest for the Tory leadership, warned him about covering territory close to that of immigration, the central theme of the failed 2005 general election campaign.

On Monday, Mr Cameron said he believed the Human Rights Act needed replacing to help keep Britain secure and protect its freedoms.

“It is hampering the fight against crime and terrorism. And it has helped to create a culture of rights without responsibilities,” he said in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies.

The Human Rights Act incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights 1950, and makes it enforceable in UK courts.

Mr Cameron wants to replace the act with a British bill of rights that would define the rights set out by the convention in “clearer and more precise terms”.

But Mr Clarke pointed out that the UK played a major role in drafting the original convention.

“His remarks were anti-foreigner and implied the convention of human rights was written by a foreigner when, in fact, I think it was written by a British Conservative lawyer after the war,” he said.

He added: “He has gone out there to try and find some lawyers who will agree with him and I think that will be a struggle myself.”

Mr Cameron’s proposal was also criticised by the government, with the attorney general describing it as “muddled” and “misconceived”.