Kenneth Clarke Biography

(Former Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Kenneth Clarke

Birthday: July 2, 1940 (Cancer)

Born In: West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England

Kenneth Clarke is a British politician from the Conservative Party. He has been nicknamed the ‘Big Beast’ of politics in Britain. He is the longest-serving ‘Member of Parliament’ (MP), also known as ‘father of the House’, since he has been an active politician since 1970. He has held various positions, like ‘Home Secretary’, ‘Education Secretary’, ‘Chancellor of the Exchequer’, ‘Health Secretary’ and even ‘Minister without Portfolio’ in the British cabinet. He is also known by the press as ‘the Prime Minister that never was’. He attained a law degree from ‘Cambridge University’, where he came in contact with several influential future politicians. Thereafter, he entered the world of politics and soon climbed his way up, serving under various Prime Ministers like Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron. It was under Major’s government that he enjoyed much success. He failed to attain the leadership of Conservative Party several times due to his pro-Europe tendencies. His no-deal Brexit efforts led to his ouster from the party and he took a step back from frontline politics. But under the post-Brexit regime, his comeback to mainstream politics seems to be very likely.

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Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Kenneth Harry Clarke

Age: 82 Years, 82 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Gillian Edwards (m. 1964–2015)

siblings: Michael Clarke

children: Kenneth Bruce Clarke, Susan Clarke

Born Country: England

Political Leaders British Men

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education: Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge, Nottingham High School

Childhood & Early Life

Kenneth Clarke was born on July 2, 1940, in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England. His father, also named Kenneth Clarke, was a mining electrician who later became a jeweller and watchmaker.

Kenneth Clarke studied at Nottingham High School after obtaining a scholarship. He attended Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University and graduated with a law degree. It was there that he was acquainted with future politicians who would become known as ‘Cambridge Mafia’.

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In 1963, Kenneth Clarke was called to the bar at the historic ‘Gray’s Inn’. In 1964, he contested in the elections to the House of Commons from Mansfield town. In 1966, he again contested from Mansfield. Both the times he lost

In 1970, he finally got elected and entered the House of Commons from East Midlands constituency. Soon, he became known as a pro-Europe, liberal ‘Conservative Party’ member.

From 1972-74, he served as the whip in Prime Minister Edward Heath’s government.

From 1976 to 1979, he was appointed Industry Spokesman at the Ministry of Transport in Margaret Thatcher’s government, whose election he had opposed.

In 1980, he became ‘Queen’s Counsel’. From 1979-81, he served in various positions at the Ministry of Transport.

From 1982-85, he was appointed Minister of State for Health. It was during this time that he was heavily criticized for his involvement in the ‘contaminated blood scandal’.

From 1985 to 87, Kenneth Clarke held various other ministerial positions. In 1988, he became the ‘Health Secretary’.

In 1989, he successfully handled a pay settlement strike by ambulance workers, which won him party praise.

In 1990, he became the Education Secretary. Soon after, he became one of the politicians who advised Thatcher to resign.

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In 1992, after John Major became the prime minister, he continued with his Education Secretary post.

In 1993, Kenneth Clarke became the Chancellor of the Exchequer and delivered his first budget that year, which was favored by his party but disliked by the general population. But the in-recession British economy revived during his tenure.

In 1997, after Major’s resignation post ‘Conservative Party’s’ defeat in the elections, he threw in his name for the party leader’s post but his Europhile tendencies lost him the job.

In 1998, he began serving in British American Tobacco as a non-executive Deputy Chair, a position he held for almost 10 years, during which time he faced criticism for his links with tobacco and the company’s smuggling activities.

In 2001, Kenneth Clarke once again unsuccessfully tried for the party leadership role.

In 2005, he was once again favored for another candidate in the party leadership elections. Thereafter, he took a step back from frontline politics.

In 2009, he was appointed the Shadow Business Secretary by party leader, David Cameron.

In 2010, as an elder statesman of the party, he retained his electoral seat and earned the post of ‘Secretary of State for Justice’ and ‘Lord Chancellor’ under David Cameron’s prime ministership.

In 2012, in a cabinet reshuufle, he was appointed as a ‘Minister without Portfolio’. But he soon became a ‘Trade Envoy’ for the British government.

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In 2014, another cabinet reshuffle led him back to the political backbench.

In 2017, Kenneth Clarke was re-elected to the House of Commons. From 2017-19, he held the position of ‘Father of the House’.

In 2019, he was expelled from the ‘Conservative Party’ for his no-deal Brexit stance and he soon became the first independent MP to become the ‘Father of the House’ in over 200 years.

Awards & Achievements

In 1985, Kenneth Clarke was awarded with ‘The Right Honourable’ title for life.

In 1989, ‘University of Nottingham’ conferred the honorary ‘LL.D’ degree upon him.

In 2014, he was presented with ‘Order of the Companions of Honour’ per Prime Minister Cameron’s recommendation.

In 2020, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, nominated him for a peerage.

Family & Personal Life

In 1964, Kenneth Clarke married his Cambridge classmate, Gillian Edwards. They had a son and a daughter.

In 2015, his wife passed away from cancer.

He is passionate about jazz, cigars, birdwatching, political history and motor racing.

As a lover of real ale, he is an active participant in ‘CAMRA’ (Campaign for Real Ale).


In 2016, his political memoir, Kind of Blue, was published.

Kenneth Clarke presented several episodes of Ken Clarke’s Jazz Greats for BBC Radio; some in 2009 and others in 2011.

The press has strangely associated him with the shoe brand ‘Hush Puppies’ owing to his preference for the brand’s shoes during the early years of his political career.

An avid sports lover, he once served as the President of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and was offered a chairmanship position at two football clubs: Nottingham Forest and Notts County.

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