By DAVID WOODING in Manchester
KITTEN-heeled Theresa May got in a right cat flap with Cabinet colleague Ken Clarke today – over the Human Rights Act.
The Home Secretary had her claws out after he poured scorn on her claim that an illegal immigrant dodged a deportation order to look after his pet pussy.
Mrs May had seized on the story to highlight her opposition to the controversial laws in a speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.
She won a standing ovation when she told of “the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I’m not making this up – he had a pet cat.”
But moments later, Cabinet top cat Mr Clarke stamped all over her claim with his size 11 Hush Puppies by claiming she had over-hyped the story.
The Justice Secretary declared: “I will have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of a cat.
“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat.”
He later quipped: “I heard Theresa refer to it and I sat there with a Victor Meldrew reaction. I thought… I can’t believe it.”
Mrs May was privately furious at the cat-astrophic intervention by Mr Clarke, who’s had a ban run of his own over his “soft” stance on prison sentences.
It was the fist Cabinet bust-up since the rally opened on Sunday and tonight both sides were hurling details of the case at each other to defend their corner.
A Home Office source said the case highlighted how illegal immigrants were taking the Act to extremes by exploiting the section which gives them a right to a family life.
Mr Clarke, who is due to receive a recort on the European Convention on Human Rights, said the Home Secretary had failed to consult him before making her remarks.
He said: “When I found out what these examples are that have upset her, I will probably find that she agrees with me. It is these daft misinterpretations of the Act which are giving the whole thing a bad reputation, when we should be a force in favour of human rights and individual liberty in the modern world, not in any way resiling from it.”
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