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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Profile: David Davis
David Davis
Mr Davis is well-respected at Westminster

When David Davis spoke at his party's spring conference in Harrogate this year, he was received by Tory delegates with a little curiosity and a large chunk of goodwill.

David Davis
Elected MP for Boothferry 1987
PPS to Francis Maude 1989-90
Government whip 1990-93
Junior minister for public service 1993-94
Minister for Europe 1994-97
Elected MP for the new seat of Haltemprice and Howden May 1997
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee 1997 - 2001
Tory Party chairman 2001 - 2002
Frontbench role shadowing John Prescott 2002 -
His keynote speech to the meeting was more of a relaxing canter around the issues of the day than a blood and thunder rallying cry.

But they liked it in Harrogate, and Mr Davis was all smiles as he walked the floors of the conference centre, and with some justification.

The conference was a big success for the party and the chairman could take a good slice of the credit.

Not bad for a man who had slipped out of last year's party leadership contest in the way self-appointed dark horses usually do - at the first hurdle.

Rumour mill

Mr Davis, who counts Tony Blair's communication chief Alastair Campbell as a good friend, had been appointed to the key post of party chairman by Iain Duncan Smith in the wake of the election.

The MP for Haltemprice and Howden had quietly built up an impressive profile for himself within political circles.

Indeed, in the Westminster rumour mill, he emerged as a potential successor to William Hague well before the 2001 general election.

As chairman of the influential public accounts committee, he had been an effective thorn in Labour's side during Tony Blair's first five years in office.

And by shunning a front bench position under Mr Hague he avoided being associated with one of the Conservative Party's most disastrous election campaigns.

Reputation

Outside the corridors of the Commons, however, he was a virtual unknown, the good works of the public accounts committee only rarely causing ripples outside Westminster.

But his profile and reputation in parliament was raised thanks to numerous inquiries into government spending.

Mr Davis is the son of a single mother and was adopted by a Polish Jewish printworker with strong trade union links.

His grandfather was a committed communist, while his family lines link him to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of his formative years were spent growing up on a south London council estate.

Ministerial rise

A former weekend soldier in the Territorial SAS, he is also a former extreme sports enthusiast who enjoyed cartwheeling out of aircraft into parachute jumps, mountain climbing and flying light aircraft.

These days he confines himself to long-distance walking.

Married with three children, Mr Davis was elected to the Commons in 1987, joining the whips office in 1990 before being made a junior minister for public service in 1993.

In 1994, he moved to the key post of minister for Europe at the Foreign Office, a post he held until the 1997 election.

A Eurosceptic on the right of the party, Mr Davis was given the task of selling the European Union to his fellow Tory MPs and fighting Britain's case in Brussels.

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Politics
23 Jul 02 | Politics

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