Rishi Sunak on a boat.
The former cabinet minister - who last night called for the prime minister to be ousted by his MPs - said the Conservatives are heading for “a shattering defeat” unless they change course.
His comments, in an interview with the BBC, is a further challenge to Sunak’s authority as he struggles to turn around his party’s fortunes.
In an article in today’s Daily Telegraph, Clarke said the Tories were “meekly sleepwalking towards an avoidable annihilation” with Sunak at the helm.
That led to a furious backlash from senior Conservatives, including former ministers David Davis, Liam Fox and Priti Patel.
But Clarke told the BBC he was undeterred and re-iterated his desire to see Sunak booted out of No.10 before the general election.
He said: “I’ve incurred some pretty hostile comments from a number of people and look, you know, in every since I’m a big guy, I can take that and I totally respect the strong views that something like this evokes, right.
“No one likes the guy who’s shouting ‘iceberg’. But I suspect that people will be even less happy if we hit the iceberg. And we are on course to do that.”
The former Treasury secretary added: “I want a Conservative government that delivers for communities like mine and for our country. And I really worry that we are on course for a shattering defeat.”
Clarke said it was “a moment of decision for the Conservative Party” and pointed out that the opinion polls had got even worse for the Tories under Sunak.
“There is really compelling evidence that we are on course for what I would say is an avoidable catastrophe,” he said.
“I think there is a very real risk that because we’re not connecting with the British public because, frankly, the prime minister is not listening to the things that the public really wants us to address, in particular on migration, that we end up with a very serious election defeat and then a decade of decline or more under Keir Starmer.”