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Former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath
"Lord Taylor should stay in the party and state his view, and do as much as he can to change the views of others"
 real 28k

The BBC's Norman Smith
"The race row rumbles on despite the best efforts of Mr Hague to put an end to it"
 real 56k

Tory Peer, Lord Taylor
"I don't want to cause any divisions within the Conservative party"
 real 28k

Former Conservative Chairman Lord Tebbit
"There's nothing racist about discussing whether a multicultural society is to the benefit of the country"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Laurence Robertson: MP in the spotlight
Laurence Robertson
Mr Robertson has been an MP since the 1997 election
Laurence Robertson's backing for the controversial remarks of fellow Conservative MP John Townend have thrust him into the full glare of the media spotlight for the first time in his career.

The 43-year-old, who has since apologised for his comments, has been MP for Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire since 1997 and, unlike Mr Townend, is not standing down at the next election.

Mr Robertson is a member of the right-wing Freedom Association, an organisation that declares to be "against equal opportunities policies".

He has said he has "a great passion for the United Kingdom", and is against devolution and the Good Friday Agreement, in Northern Ireland.

Eurosceptic

A strong eurosceptic, he campaigned for John Redwood in the Conservative leadership contest in 1995.

In the Commons, the Mr Robertson sits on several parliamentary groups, including the European scrutiny and social security committees.

He takes a particular interest in constitutional issues, education and economic policy, and counts among his recreations sport, reading, writing and the countryside.

Before being elected to the Commons Mr Robertson was a businessman who had also worked as a management consultant and engineer.

New force

He joined the Conservative Party in 1981, and sees himself as part of a new force in the organisation.

In 1996 he said: "Obviously the Conservative party has changed - and not before time - in the years since Margaret Thatcher took over.

"There is a new breed of people coming in which is different to the old landed gentry".

Mr Robertson became embroiled in the race row after he described the controversial remarks by John Townend as "basically true".

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Talking Politics
Keep fighting, John Taylor
17 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Tory candidates warned over racism
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Benn condemns Tory 'racism'
14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Parties will not exploit race issue
05 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Tory critics round on Hague
30 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Race groups urge Hague to act
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