Michael Portillo

Former Member of Parliament, and Cabinet Minister

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Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo PC (born 26 May 1953) is a British journalist, broadcaster, and former Member of Parliament, and Cabinet Minister. He was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 1984. A strong admirer of Margaret Thatcher, and a Eurosceptic, Portillo served as a junior minister under both Thatcher and John Major, before entering the cabinet in 1992. A "darling of the right", he was seen as a likely challenger to Major during the 1995 Conservative leadership election, but stayed loyal. As Defence Secretary, he pressed for a purist Thatcherite course of "clear blue water", separating the policies of the Conservatives from Labour.

Portillo unexpectedly lost his very safe Enfield Southgate seat at the 1997 general election. This led to the coining of the expression "Portillo moment". Returning to the Commons after being given the Conservative candidacy in the 1999 by-election in Kensington and Chelsea (an even safer seat), Portillo rejoined the front bench as Shadow Chancellor, although his relationship with Conservative Leader William Hague was strained. Standing for the leadership of the party in 2001, he narrowly came in third place behind Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke. Portillo retired from the Commons at the 2005 general election, and has since pursued his media interests, presenting a wide range of television and radio programmes.

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