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Ken Clarke expelled from the parliamentary Conservative Party

Ken Clarke, the MP for Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire Credit: PA

The following report is written by ITV News Central's political correspondent Alison Mackenzie.

My abiding memory of Ken Clarke was back in 2009 when I agreed to show some school pupils from his Rushcliffe constituency in Nottinghamshire around the House of Commons.

We were walking into Central Lobby close to the commons entrance and we literally bumped into him. I asked if he would be kind enough to address the pupils for a few minutes, as they all had an interest in learning about politics.

Well a few minutes turned into an hour and half (including a personal tour of the estate). It sums up the MP who has held a lifelong passion for politics and for passing on his wide experience and knowledge to others.

Today, he begins life outside of the Parliamentary Conservative party at Westminster. His punishment for joining the opposition parties in voting against his own government to block 'no deal' with the EU.

As ever, he has been sanguine about the turn of events dismissing Boris Johnson's Conservative party as the Brexit Party "rebadged." His own Conservative Association in Rushcliffe has begun the search for a new candidate to fight the seat. The 79-year-old had already announced that he would not be seeking re-election.

Ken Clarke knows the price he has paid for championing the EU project for many years.

Ken Clarke Credit: PA

He first became an MP in 1970, when Boris Johnson was six years old. He stood three times to become party leader and three times he failed to get there. But beyond that, he has done just about every cabinet job there is.

He is variously described as a veteran, a grandee - a lover of hush puppy shoes and jazz music.

I remember when a magazine awarded him the title 'Oldie of the Year' in 2012. At the time he was Secretary of State for Justice. After his highly amusing speech to the audience of dignitaries, did he wait for a ministerial car to return him to Westminster? No. Did he seek help from a parliamentary assistant to arrange transport? No. He simply went outside on his own to hail a black cab in the thick of traffic on a busy London street. My view is that he probably did not even claim for it on expenses.

These are historic times and no one had quite contemplated that Ken Clarke would end his career sitting on the back benches as an Independent.

Somehow, I do not think it will deter his passion for politics or his passion for a pint at his local in West Bridgford.