As Clarke is signed up to the Cameron plan, I doubt that Europe is necessarily the problem. Concern arises from Clarke's apparent unwillingness to fulfil the duties of his brief. One think tank supremo is quoted by Pol Home saying:
“No. It isn’t just Europe, it’s his non-fondness to work hard, master a brief, do the hard slog. He likes being on television, but there’s more to being a Secretary of State than that, and plenty of current non-frontbenchers who would work.”
This objection relates to Clarke’s age as well, but is age necessarily a problem? Clarke offers Cameron a decade of Cabinet experience, proven success as Chancellor and huge rhetorical force, supported by his public profile. Those are rare commodities among Tory MPs, and, in view of the seriousness of the task ahead, those qualities cannot be ignored. Clarke’s conference speech, charting the less than vibrant ground of small business regulation, evidenced his presentational talents and that he grasps his brief. It is not a question of can; he must.