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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March 2005, 12:19 GMT
Profile: Howard Flight
Howard Flight
Mr Flight is a popular local MP
Howard Flight may not be a household name but he has been very influential in shaping Conservative party policy.

He set up the James review last year to identify public spending savings, the findings of which will be the cornerstone of the party's forthcoming general election campaign.

He is on the economic right of the party - an ardent Eurosceptic and Thatcherite and passionate advocate of cutting the size of the state and privatising social services.

But he has never given up his lucrative career as a City fund manager - he is joint chairman of Investec Asset Management - and is highly regarded in Westminster for his grasp of the financial world.

Savings suggestion

He has been a popular local MP in Arundel and South Downs, successfully defending one of the safest Tory seats in the country in 2001 with an increased majority of 13,704.

But he lost the party whip and was deselected by the local Conservative Association in a row over party spending comments.

Before that, he had largely managed to stay out of the headlines.

But his speech to a Conservative Way Forward dinner, outlining the party's intention to go on cutting spending over and above the measures outlined in the James review, is not the first time he has been in trouble with his party leader.

Iain Duncan Smith, during his brief tenure as Tory leader, was forced on to the back foot when Mr Flight suggested the party could make savings of 20%.

Eurosceptic views

Mr Flight has been active in the Tory party since the late 1960s, when he was chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. He read History and Economics and went to study in America, gaining an MBA in 1971, specializing in international finance.

He worked as an investment adviser in Hong Kong and India throughout the 1970s, taking a time out to do charity work for Mother Theresa.

He was a personal adviser to Norman Tebbit during the latter's time at the Department of Trade and Industry.

He shares many of his mentor's Eurosceptic views and has said that he would never vote in favour of a single European currency.

He was elected to parliament in 1997, after several attempts, in the ultra-safe seat of Arundel and South Downs.

City relations

He quickly gained promotion from junior Treasury spokesman to shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

But he was eased out of the Treasury team in September 2004 to make way for George Osborne.

By way of consolation, he was given the job of maintaining good relations with the City of London and was made deputy party chairman.

He is a supporter of the Conservative Family Campaign and the Freedom Association.

He married his wife Christabel in 1974 and they have four children.


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