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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
Heseltine gets Straw's vote
Heseltine waves
Michael Heseltine is standing down at next election
Retiring Tory statesman Michael Heseltine has been given the seal of approval by Home Secretary Jack Straw, in a rare example of cross-party praise.

Mr Straw described Mr Heseltine's contribution to politics as "a major achievement".

He dismissed the idea that the Tory politician - who is to stand down at the next election - had been unsuccessful because he never became prime minister.

In a letter to The Times, Mr Straw said the late Enoch Powell's claim that all political lives ended in failure unless cut off in midstream was wrong.

This concept confused the necessary renewal of politicians with failure, the home secretary said.

Jack Straw
Straw: Praised Heseltine's "major achievement"
"Being prime minister requires special qualities, but it is no guarantee historically of success," wrote Mr Straw.

"And there are scores of backbenchers who have been - and are - highly successful in what they do.

"As for Michael Heseltine, whilst he was denied the ultimate goal he set himself, his contribution to his party and to British politics has been, on any other basis, a major achievement."

One of the most charismatic figures in the party, the Tory politician was once seen by many as a natural heir to the party crown after Margaret Thatcher.

In November 1990, he brought about her downfall by challenging for the leadership, but John Major snatched the crown from Mr Heseltine - just as he was sensing victory

The politician has said he is leaving Parliament to spend more time with his business interests, including the publishing group Haymarket.

He has also insisted he would carry on campaigning for British entry into the euro even though he will no longer be an MP.

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See also:

27 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Tributes as Heseltine bows out
27 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Heseltine: Political CV
01 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Heseltine backs Blair's euro campaign
11 Oct 99 | UK Politics
Heseltine warns of Eurosceptic threat
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