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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Portillo statement in full
Michael Portillo addresses the media
Michael Portillo's move had been widely predicted
This is the full text of Michael Portillo's statement announcing his entry to the race to become leader of the Conservative Party.



I wish to put my name forward for the leader of the Conservative Party.

Our party has suffered two catastrophic results and the responsibility for those results is shared by all of us who have been at the top of the party.

Unless the party makes major changes in its style, and in the issues on which it chooses to focus, there is a danger we will actually go further down in public respect.


The Conservative Party must be an internationalist party

I want to make some remarks about what sort of party we should be.

We are a party that believes in tradition and history.

We believe that government can be often bureaucratic and inefficient and that we need to do much better in delivering services to people who rely on them.

Support for families

We believe that government can interfere too much in people's lives and choices and we need to emphasise duties as well as rights, that there are responsibilities that people have towards themselves, their families and towards others in society which can never be sub-contracted to the government.

We believe in doing what we can to support stability in families and we want to see a bigger role for the voluntary sector in our society.

We need to show we are people like other people - that their concerns are our concerns.


I think that the British people are fed up with yah-boo politics

We need to adopt a tone which is moderate and understanding, we need to be talking about the issues that they are talking about.

If I were to become leader, the shadow cabinet would be my chief advisers, we would be a team bound together by a common purpose and a sense of collegiate spirit.

We have many fine minds and many fine spirits in the Conservative Party, a group of people who are intensely interested in developing well thought-out policies for the improvement of our society.

Public services

But we do need to develop a much better understanding of the problems of education, health and transport.

The whole shadow cabinet needs to be involved in demonstrating our commitment to those public services and developing policies to help improve them.

I believe we should look also at international examples for inspiration, in particular the experiences of our close European neighbours.


Our party has suffered two catastrophic results and the responsibility for those results is shared by all of us who have been at the top of the party

The Conservative Party must be an internationalist party.

The party must have a full understanding of all the issues in which Britain is involved, as part of its broad role as a big diplomatic player on the world scene, including issues such as world poverty.

I would want, as Conservative leader, to work closely with other centre and centre-right European parties to develop policies both for Britain and for Europe.

Euro stance

The majority of us in the Conservative Party are against entering the single currency but our strong conviction on that point will carry more weight if it is seen to come from a party which is internationalist and involved in friendly debate with our European neighbours.

That will also, of course, make life more comfortable for those in our party who think that on the euro, we are wrong.

I am absolutely sure that the leadership campaign will be conducted within the Conservative Party with great courtesy.

But more broadly, I would always wish to be thoughtful and moderate in the things that I say about the government and other political opponents.

Broad appeal

I think that the British people are fed up with yah-boo politics and the challenge for us is to develop not just an opposition but an alternative which is based on conviction.

We need to broaden the appeal of our party.

Our party has to appeal to the whole range of people who now live in the UK - to people of all ages, of both sexes and people whose family origin is outside Britain.

The key challenge for us in the next four years will be to attract to the party the broadest range of talented people from that whole diversity of people who make up today's UK.


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