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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK

UK Politics

Portillo return 'could be in jeopardy'

Michael Portillo: Ambitions of returning to politics

Michael Portillo's revelation that he had homosexual encounters at university may have jeopardised his chances of becoming a candidate for Kensington and Chelsea, a former Tory MP has said.

Harry Greenway, the Conservative MP for Ealing North until 1997, said: "I know some of these people at Kensington and Chelsea and from what I know of them they may well draw the line on hearing this.

"This may well have jeopardised Mr Portillo's chances of getting the seat to fight. Some of these people in the constituency may well take that view."

[ image: Michael Portillo on TV pilgrimage to Spain this year]
Michael Portillo on TV pilgrimage to Spain this year
Other Tory MPs would not comment on the disclosure.

But one Conservative, who asked not to be identified, said: "The Conservative Party may be a broad church but it does not necessarily mean that it has a broad mind. That could be Mr Portillo's problem."

Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris, who has campaigned on equality issues in the Commons, said: "As far as this relates to politicians' private lives, it is irrelevant.

"But perhaps Mr Portillo should consider formally renouncing his previous discriminatory voting record, and indeed the Conservative Party should stop its spokespeople, such as its Conservative Family Campaign, making outrageous and homophobic remarks and judgements."

Peter Tatchell, spokesman for the lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage!, said: "Michael Portillo is widely despised within the lesbian and gay community because he has repeatedly voted against gay equality.

"He has supported a discriminatory age of consent and, as defence minister, enforced the ban on lesbians and gays in the armed forces.

"This contradiction between his personal behaviour and his voting record on gay rights calls into question his ethical integrity."

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