- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Britain's Tories, crippled after two landslide defeats by Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party, yesterday narrowed their choice for a new leader to two men: one from the right and the other from the left.
Iain Duncan Smith, the reported favorite of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, opposes Britain's adopting the euro as its currency.
His opponent to lead the Conservative Party, as the Tories are officially known, will be former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, who leads the party's pro-European wing.
Mr. Clarke won the support of 59 of the 166 Conservative members of Parliament, compared to Mr. Duncan Smith's 54.
Some 300,000 rank-and-file party members will now choose between the two men on Sept. 12.
Former leader William Hague resigned last month following a humiliating defeat to Mr. Blair's Labor Party, an outcome widely blamed on a strongly anti-European focus of the election campaign.
In a surprise reversal of fortunes, Mr. Clarke went from underdog in the first round of voting to leader in yesterday's election.
An outspoken Europhile, there is concern about whether he will be unable to lead a largely Euro-skeptic party — concern Mr. Clarke shrugged off yesterday.
"I'm sure I could," he told the British Broadcasting Corp. "I have attracted support from a very wide range of the party."
Mr. Duncan Smith, a former army captain who saw service in Northern Ireland, is a die-hard Euro-skeptic who supports the U.S.-proposed missile defense, and opposes the introduction of a European rapid-reaction military force.
"I'm relieved and pleased that I'm in the last round," Mr. Duncan Smith told British Sky News.
Defeated candidate Michael Portillo, once regarded as Mrs. Thatcher's natural successor, immediately announced his intention to take a back seat in the Conservative opposition.
"I think the time has come for me to seek other things to do," said Mr. Portillo, who came in one vote behind Mr. Smith in the election to choose the top two candidates.
Mr. Portillo had alienated many of the party faithful by adopting a "caring conservative" stance, and by admitting to a past homosexual encounter.
Both Mr. Duncan Smith and Mr. Clarke sought to shift attention from European integration toward domestic concerns — an approach that is likely to find support among the general public in Britain.
In a survey released yesterday, one in four Britons said they knew "nothing at all" about the European Union. The new leader will bear responsibility for reviving the Conservatives' electoral fortunes.
According to a poll published yesterday in the London Guardian, 25 percent of those polled were more likely to vote Tory if Mr. Clarke was leader, compared to 14 percent with Mr. Duncan Smith.

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