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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Business backing for Portillo
Ken Clarke, Michael Portillo, Iain Duncan Smith
Business leaders have singled out Mr Portillo
Eleven business leaders have publicly declared their backing for Mr Michael Portillo as the contest to lead the Conservative Party enters a crucial phase.

Their support came in a letter to the Financial Times on Monday, and was signed by the last president of the CBI, Sir Clive Thompson, the current chief executive of Rentokil Initial.


We are fed up with a Labour government that has laden business down with extra red tape and stealth taxes

Business leaders in a letter to the FT
Other signatories include chairman of the Dixons Group Sir Stanley Kalms, Lord Bell of Chime Communications and Lord Sainsbury, the former chairman of the supermarket empire.

The letter, which carried the title 'Portillo is the right leader for Britain and for business' - said that the business leaders wanted the Conservative party to "get its act together".

"We are fed up with a Labour government that has laden business down with extra red tape and stealth taxes," read the letter.

The euro issue

Mr Portillo's aides also pointed to the inclusion of Sir Clive Thompson, Rentokil chief executive and leading advocate of euro membership, as evidence of broad support.

"We may not all agree with his long-held view on the single currency. But we all believe he has the right qualities and experience to lead the party back to power," the letter continued.

Henry Angest, Chairman of the Secure Trust Banking Group, Zygon boss James Dobree and Sir Paul Judge also added their names to the letter.

The support of the business leaders will help give Mr Portillo's campaign a boost after a fraught weekend.

Bad publicity

MPs are weighing up accusations by William Hague's former press secretary, Amanda Platell, that Mr Portillo's supporters were disloyal to William Hague during the general election campaign.

And Baroness Thatcher has denied claims she was backing the shadow chancellor.

The contest for the leadership of the Conservative party is entering a crucial phase.

The remaining three candidates - Mr Portillo, Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith - are preparing for two hectic days of campaigning before Tuesday's third-round ballot.

That will decide which two men will face the final test - a ballot of the 300,000 Tory members, with the victor named on 12 September.


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See also:

15 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Portillo camp hit by Platell video
14 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Portillo 'expects to finish second'
13 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tory race on knife edge
13 Jul 01 | UK Politics
And then there were three
01 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Filkin urged to probe Portillo donations
10 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Portillo under fire as Tory vote opens
16 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Battle for Tory votes intensifies
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