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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 18:17 GMT
Portillo returns to Westminster
William Hague with Michael Portillo outside Westminster

Former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo has made his return to the green benches of the House of Commons.

The MP for Kensington and Chelsea entered the chamber for the first time since he lost his previous seat in the 1997 general election to be greeted with cheers from other Tories.

He had to endure the odd provocative comment from the other side of the House too, but a broad smiled remained fixed to his face as he approached the speaker's chair.

Earlier, he was greeted outside Parliament by Conservative leader William Hague, party chairman Michael Ancram and shadow chancellor Francis Maude.

Mr Maude is one of two shadow cabinet members whom it has been suggested could be moved to make way for a return to frontbench politics by Mr Portillo.

The by-election win gave Tories something to celebrate
But his inclusion in the welcome party could indicate it is the other name often mentioned - shadow foreign secretary John Maples - who has most to worry about.

Mr Maude was also one of the new MP's two sponsors who presented him to the House of Commons.

But for more than one Labour member at least, the job Mr Portillo is really interested in was not the shadow chancellor's.

One shouted: "Here he comes, leader-in-waiting and prime minister-in-waiting!"

Another pointed at Mr Hague who was watching the procedure from the frontbench and shouted: "Hey, you're sitting in Michael's seat."

Asked if he was glad to be back, Mr Portillo said: "You bet. Of course."

He won the by-election held on Thursday in the safe Tory seat with a majority of more than 6,000.

It was held after the death of Alan Clark MP, the famous diarist and outspoken politician.

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See also:
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Portillo backing Hague
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Michael Portillo: A political rebirth
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Portillo victory boosts Tories

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