The support for a return to front-bench politics for Kenneth Clarke shown in a survey of Conservative party activists may cause David Cameron some difficulty because Clarke, as a former Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, from 1993-1997, would expect to have a prominent role in the Shadow Cabinet. To make him shadow Chancellor would be a serious rebuff for George Osborne and a role as deputy leader would put William Hague's nose out of joint even though he takes that part only unofficially. Fortunately for Mr Cameron the prime minister has helped him in this dilemma by appointing a big beast in the form of Lord Mandelson as Business Secretary - someone worthy of Mr Clarke's close attentions as his shadow in an important job. There is, of course, another difficulty about Kenneth Clarke's presence in the shadow cabinet - his continuing commitment to Britain's membership of the European Union in all aspects. If Mr Cameron persists in his expressed intention to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - if it is still an open issue when he gains office -- or on the wider issue of EU membership, he would almost certainly meet implacable resistance from Mr Clarke. The same survey that approved of Clarke's return was even more strongly in favour of an opportunity for David Davis to rejoin his former colleagues after his quixotic resignation and re-election earlier this year. He is a hard-hitter and his return would strengthen the Conservative team.
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