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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Portillo's despatch box farewell
Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo's last stand at the despatch box
Vanquished Conservative leadership candidate Michael Portillo made his farewell appearance at the despatch box on Thursday just 48 hours after announcing he was bowing out of frontline politics.

The shadow chancellor, whose crashing out of the race to succeed William Hague shocked the political world on Tuesday, was greeted with cheers from colleagues on the opposition benches.

I suppose you can say that you appealed to all thinking Conservatives - but there weren't enough of them

Gordon Brown
Mr Portillo took the opportunity of his final frontbench appearance to praise Chancellor Gordon Brown for "building on the work" begun by John Major, the last Tory prime minister, in fighting world debt.

Mr Portillo urged him to "carry forward" the work on behalf of all the parties.

Mr Brown in turn paid tribute to Mr Portillo's contribution to national life and the "dignified manner" in which he had handled defeat.

"I think all of us understood the difficulties that the Conservative Party had in choosing from their three candidates.

"I suppose you can say that you appealed to all thinking Conservatives - but there weren't enough of them," he joked.

Mr Portillo failed to secure enough votes from his fellow Tory MPs to proceed to the final run-off vote of all party members.

Impending fatherhood

It was also the chancellor's first appearance in the Commons chamber since news broke that he was to become a father.

He and his wife, Sarah, announced on Tuesday that they were expecting their first child next February - news that won Mr Brown good wishes from all sides of the House.

Gordon Brown and Sarah Macaulay
Parents to be Mr Brown and wife Sarah
Mr Portillo offered his congratulations to Mr Brown and added: "I must say this news has brought great pleasure to me - and also, I believe, to Lord Tebbit!"

That was a reference to Lord Tebbit's thinly veiled attack on Mr Portillo at the start of the Tory leadership race, when he described challenger Iain Duncan Smith as a "normal, family man with children".

Mr Brown said: "On behalf of all MPs can I thank you for your contributions to the debates of this House over the last year as shadow chancellor, but also over many years when you have spoken from the front bench for the Conservative party - and for the contribution you have made from the front bench to national life in this country.

"While you know more than anyone else, I suspect, in this House, the vicissitudes of political life, I think everyone on this side and all sides of the House, has been struck by the dignified manner in which you accepted the events of this week.

Best wishes

"All of us on this side, and I believe, everybody in the House wish you well in whatever you seek to do in the years ahead."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor then added his congratulations to the chancellor and commiserations to Mr Portillo.

"I believe [Mr Portillo's] party has shown a remarkable lack of courage in adopting a social liberal agenda, which this party at least will be arguing for," he said.

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See also:

18 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Chancellor to become a father
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Loser Portillo quits Tory frontline
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Portillo: Mistrusted by both sides
 | UK Politics
Portillo pays the price
 | UK Politics
Portillo's dark days
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