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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 12:21 GMT
David Heathcoat-Amory: Shadow Trade & Industry

By BBC News Online's Ben Davies

David Heathcoat-Amory is one of those Conservative MPs that used to dominate the parliamentary party.

The nephew of one of Macmillan's chancellors, a landowning old Etonian, Oxford graduate - it reads like the CV of an old One Nation patrician.

But Mr Heathcoat-Amory, whose family money comes from thread, embraced the Thatcherite era, not least because he felt that she was restoring the reputation of Britain abroad.

Resigned over euro

Rumour has it that he told Lady Thatcher that his motivation for entering politics was his opposition to the single European currency.

He even resigned from his role as paymaster general in John Major's government so that he could campaign against the euro in 1996 - the very time when the Tory Party's internecine war over Europe was helping to ensure it would be soundly rejected by the voters at the next election.

William Hague nevertheless rapidly included him on his front bench team, eventually promoting him to shadow trade & industry secretary.

Former Heathite

In the sixties Mr Heathcoat-Amory had been a Heath supporter and backed British entry into the Common Market, as it was then known.

Sir Edward Heath:
Sir Edward Heath: "Isolated"
More recently, however, he has branded Sir Edward "an isolated, increasingly historic figure" after the former prime minister backed Labour plans for devolution, the minimum wage and the European social chapter.

As someone who owns 15,500 acres of farmland in Scotland, Mr Heathcoat-Amory has also collected 45,000 of EU subsidies on his 1,900 sheep and for declaring part of his land environmentally sensitive.

Pro-nuclear

He has voiced support for nuclear industry, arguing that it was safe, clean and cheap while coal was dirty, dangerous and expensive.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory has voiced support for the nuclear industry
Mr Heathcoat-Amory has voiced support for the nuclear industry
When Peter Mandelson's enforced resignation from the cabinet at the start of this year entailed a mini-reshuffle of the government front bench, Mr Heathcoat-Amory attacked new energy minister Peter Hain.

The Tory trade spokesman said Mr Hain should not be allowed to take charge of nuclear policy until he resigned from CND.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory served, under Margaret Thatcher's prime ministership, as minister responsible for protecting the environment. He later became an energy minister and then deputy chief whip.

In that latter role, under John Major, despite his doubts over Europe he helped push the Maastricht Bill through the Commons, and went on become minister for Europe at the Foreign Office before quitting in the summer of 1996.

As a young man he boxed for Oxford, attended anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, had a spell as reporter in the south-east Asian country and then became an accountant.

Mr Heathcoat-Amory is the son of retired army officer Brigadier Roderick Heathcoat-Amory and his wife Sonia.

He is married to artist Linda and has two sons and a daughter.

He entered Parliament for the Somerset constituency of Wells in 1979, which he narrowly held with a majority of 528 in 1997.

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