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Saturday, June 20, 1998 Published at 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK


UK: Politics

End of uneasy Tory marriage of beliefs

Peter Temple-Morris: out of step with the Euro-sceptic views of the Conservative Party

Peter Temple-Morris, a suave and urbane figure who married into the Shah of Persia's royal household, has been ill at ease with the Conservative Party for months.

That discomfort turned into something approaching hostility with the arrival of William Hague as the new Tory leader and the increasing influence of the Eurosceptics within the party.

So the man, who dared publicly to proclaim that he had discussions with Tony Blair about defecting to Labour, fell out with the Conservatives in November and declared that he would sit as an Independent in the Commons.

It was a political "marriage" of a traditional One Nation Tory into a party which, in his youth, appeared to share all his views and aspirations. It looked like the perfect alliance.

"So wet he's in a puddle"

But as the years rolled by, the "couple" started to bicker and nag. There was talk of separation, and finally what, within hours of the split, is becoming known already as the shotgun divorce.

It had reached the point of irretrievable breakdown. The party moved to the right and Mr Temple-Morris, if he had moved at all, edged further to the left.

In the words of one of his Conservative back-bench colleagues, he was "so wet that if he stands still for two minutes he is in a puddle".


[ image: The MP for Leominster explains his decision to leave the Tory Party on BBC Radio]
The MP for Leominster explains his decision to leave the Tory Party on BBC Radio
Peter Temple-Morris, 59, entered Parliament as MP for Leominster in 1974, the year of Edward Heath's defeat. Given his views, which seem to be permanently unfashionable, his prospects of promotion were blighted by the political leanings of the subsequent leaders of the party, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and William Hague.

The man who was once described by Alistair Campbell, now the Prime Minister's press secretary, as "white-haired and wet" was born in Cardiff and educated at Malvern and St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

He was a practising solicitor, and then a barrister, with an interest in European affairs, the issue which was ultimately to lead to his split with the party.

"Night of neutrality"

In 1964 he married Tahere, daughter of the then Shah of Persia's Chamberlain. It was a complicated marriage involving the necessity, according to newspapers at the time, to "marry four times in two days".

On July 24, they were married at a Persian Muslim ceremony conducted in Arabic; in the afternoon they were married again at a Persian civil ceremony at the London home of the bride's parents.

There followed what was described as "a night of neutrality" when the couple did not see each other until the following morning, when they went through an English civil ceremony at Caxton Hall Register Office. And in the afternoon their marriage was blessed at an Anglican service in a London Church.

"MP in the fast lane"

Throughout his political career, Mr Temple-Morris has maintained a strictly pro-European line and was a dedicated disciple of Michael Heseltine. And he was one of those who openly urged Mr Heseltine to challenge Mrs Thatcher for the Conservative leadership.

Mr Temple-Morris has also made Middle East issues one of his special subjects in the Commons and he remains one of the most knowledgeable parliamentarians about that troubled region.

But Europe was the dominant problem. Even before the General Election there was talk that he might not remain a Conservative for ever. It was Mr Hague's anti-single currency stand that finally made Mr Temple-Morris and his party incompatible bedfellows.

Outside politics, Mr Temple-Morris is interested in shooting, wine and food. He is also known as the "MP in the very fast lane" because of his love of fast cars, proof of which was the £50 fine imposed on him in 1983 for driving at 100 mph on the M5.





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