Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 22:02 GMT 23:02 UK
Portillo begins comeback
Michael Portillo: Hopes to replace Alan Clark
Former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo's return to national politics has begun in earnest after he put forward his name to take up the vacant London seat of Kensington and Chelsea.
The announcement comes hours after Mr Portillo attempted to "clear the decks" before returning to public life by admitting he had homosexual experiences in the past.
The Tory leader has publicly welcomed the Mr Portillo's move, saying he wanted the former minister back in the Commons.
He said Mr Portillo's admission of homosexual experiences was "essentially a private matter".
'A difficult decision'
In a statement, he said: "I have informed Conservative Central Office that I wish my name to go forward for the vacancy caused by Alan Clark's death.
The effect of the revelations about his personal life on his attempt to represent Kensington and Chelsea are unclear, but the former MP for Enfield Southgate has urged the party to show tolerance.
He revealed his gay past in an interview with The Times, which took place in July but was only published on Thursday, after getting "fed up with all the innuendo".
"I will say what I want to say," he said. "I had some homosexual experiences as a young person."
He added: "I think if I read this about somebody else, my reaction would be to say 'so what'. I hope that may be other people's reaction but we'll see."
He said: "When I was in public life I was dogged by rumour, if I go back to public life I'm not going to have all that again.
"The only way you can deal with it the things that are untrue which were very vile, and very unsubstantial and very many, and the things which were true, which in my view, were very mild and a very long time ago."
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