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Michael Portillo's Biography

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Former Conservative MP, Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo was born on 26 May 1953 in Bushey, Herfordshire.

His father Luis Portillo was a Professor in Salamanca and a Republican during the Spanish Civil War and came to Britain as a refugee.

Michael's mother Cora was the daughter of a Kirkcaldy linen mill owner.

Michael Portillo was a pupil at Harrow County Grammar School for boys and appeared as Macduff in a school play. He cast Diane Abbott (later to be his rival MP and fellow pundit on This Week), who went to the girls school, as Lady Macduff.

It was at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, where he got a first, that Michael Portillo changed his political inclinations to the right-wing.

In the late 1970s Michael Portillo worked for the Conservative Research Department and later was a special adviser to David Howell and then Cecil Parkinson.

Michael Portillo entered parliament in 1984, winning the Enfield Southgate by-election caused by the death of Sir Anthony Berry as a result of the Brighton bomb.

Portillo held a succession of ministerial jobs in the 1980s and in the 1990s his roles included Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Employment Secretary and Defence Secretary.

However, in a shock vote Michael Portillo was ousted from his parliamentary seat in 1997.

At the time of the election, Portillo had been riding high and was seen as a future leader of the Conservatives. He had a large majority and so when the Enfield Southgate vote was announced there were gasps around the country that led to the phrase "did you stay up for Portillo".

After his election defeat Michael Portillo started to work in the press and TV.

He presented Portillo's Progress for Channel 4 and a programme in the BBC's Great Railway Journeys series.

In 1999, Michael Portillo bounced back into the world of parliamentary politics, winning the Kensington and Chelsea by-election.

He was made Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2000 by William Hague.

When the Conservatives lost another election in 2001, Michael Portillo stood for leader of the party, but was defeated in another shock vote.

In the ballot Ken Clarke got 59 votes and Iain Duncan Smith 54 votes with Michael Portillo only one vote behind on 53 votes, but it meant that his name did not go forward to a ballot of party members.

His failed leadership bid signalled a shift in emphasis from politics to the media and Michael Portillo presented a programme on Wagner's operas and appeared in BBC2's When Michael Portillo Became a Single Mum.

Michael Portillo stepped down from Parliament at the 2005 general election.

Portillo's notable media work includes his regular spot on This Week on BBC1 with Andrew Neil and The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4.

In ITV's Extinct, Michael Portillo appealed on behalf of the Hyacinth macaw.

Along with the likes of Stan Collymore, Jennifer Ellison, Patsy Palmer, and Ingrid Tarrant, Michael Portillo was on the jury of the BBC Two courtroom show The Verdict.

In 2011, Michael Portillo presented the BBC2 series Great British Railway Journeys.

The following year, he hosted Great Continental Railway Journeys.

Both were successes and became repeat series.

Portillo also went on to host Great American Railroad Journeys and Great Indian Railway Journeys.

Michael Portillo often buys his jackets from bespoke tailors Volpe in Pimlico and Richard James in Savile Row.

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