EU Referendum

EU referendum: Boris Johnson 'a nicer Trump, ' says Ken Clarke

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Media captionKen Clarke says Boris Johnson is 'a much nicer version of Donald Trump'

Ken Clarke has compared Boris Johnson to US Presidential candidate Donald Trump as the war of words between rival Conservative EU campaigners escalates.

"He's a much nicer version of Donald Trump but the campaign is remarkably similar in my opinion," said Mr Clarke.

The veteran pro-EU MP was speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Vote Leave have stepped up their focus on immigration, accusing David Cameron of harming public trust in politics with his pledge to cut net migration.

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In a joint letter to the prime minister, Mr Johnson and Justice Secretary Michael Gove said Mr Cameron's promise to reduce net migration to below 100,000 at last year's general election was "plainly not achievable as long as the UK is a member of the EU".

No-confidence vote

Following the letter, a number of Conservative MPs broke ranks to call for Mr Cameron to quit even if the Remain campaign wins in 23 June's referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU.

Nadine Dorries - a long standing backbench critic of the prime minister who says she would back Mr Johnson in any contest to replace him - predicted the PM would be "toast" if Remain won by a narrow margin.

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Image caption Donald Trump has called for a temporary 'ban' on Muslims entering the US

She told ITV's Peston on Sunday she had tabled a letter seeking a no-confidence vote in Mr Cameron.

Fellow Leave campaigner Andrew Bridgen suggested more than the 50 Conservative MPs needed to trigger such a vote were ready to move against Mr Cameron.

In his Today interview, Mr Clarke said Conservative in-fighting was "damaging to the referendum".

'Public face'

"The public are getting fed up with Tory civil wars when they thought they were being asked about the future of this country for their children and grandchildren.

"All this stuff about whether one or two backbenchers have signed letters calling for David Cameron to resign, I think most of the public would agree, is a bit of a diversion.

"I think Boris and Donald Trump should go away for a bit and enjoy themselves and not get in the way of the serious issues which modern countries of the 21st century face."

Image caption Ken Clarke says the public are fed up with Tory infighting

Pressed on his opinion of Mr Johnson, he said: "He is a much nicer version of Donald Trump but the campaign is remarkably similar in my opinion and about as relevant to the real problems that the public face."

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, who entered Parliament at the 2015 election, said she hoped hostilities between Tory MPs would cease after the referendum.

"Of the new intake, the 2015 intake, we're very much hoping that after the referendum we can get back to doing the work we set out to do and that David Cameron as the prime minister will be leading that way," she told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

Number 10 dismissed the personal attacks as a "distraction" intended to move attention away from the economic arguments for remaining in the EU.

Republican candidate Mr Trump sparked controversy by suggesting a temporary "ban" on Muslims entering the United States and has pledged to build a wall to prevent Mexican illegal immigrants entering the country.

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