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1965: Heath is new Tory leader

Shadow Chancellor Edward Heath has beaten off his rivals in the Conservative leadership contest triggered by last week's unexpected resignation of Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

Mr Heath's victory comes as a surprise - shadow Foreign Secretary Reginald Maudling had been widely tipped to win.

Two polls of Tory MPs published this morning indicated a large majority intended to vote for him in today's ballot.

However, in the event many backed Mr Heath instead giving him 150 votes to Mr Maudling's 133.

The third challenger, maverick Enoch Powell, managed just 15 votes meaning Mr Heath had a slim overall majority.


"I hope to have the opportunity of working under Mr Heath's leadership to defeat the present government as soon as possible"

Reginald Maudling

Under Conservative Party leadership election rules Mr Maudling could have forced a second ballot but in view of Mr Heath's majority he bowed to tradition and announced his withdrawal.

In a statement issued late this evening Mr Maudling said: "I am very grateful to all the friends who have supported me but I have no doubt that it is in the interest of the party I should not continue to another ballot.

"I hope to have the opportunity of working under Mr Heath's leadership to defeat the present government as soon as possible."

Many are attributing Edward Heath's success to Mr Maudling's poor performance as Chancellor in the last Conservative government.

Mr Heath formally takes over as leader in a week's time when he makes the traditional address to a meeting of Conservative peers, Young Conservatives, the party's national executive and constituency delegates.

In Context
Edward Heath became prime minister in 1970.

He achieved his aim of taking Britain into the European Economic Community (EEC) but widespread industrial action and economic difficulties led to the Tories falling from power in February 1974.

After he failed to lead his party back into office in another election in 1974 he was challenged for the leadership by Margaret Thatcher who had been Education Secretary in his cabinet.

In February 1975 Mr Heath was forced to resign when she defeated him in the first round.

Mrs Thatcher then went on to beat four other male candidates to become the first female leader of a British political party and, four years later, Britain's first woman prime minister.

Edward Heath never forgave Mrs Thatcher for ousting him and refused to serve in her cabinet.

He was knighted in 1992 and, after more than 50 years as a MP, retired from politics in 2001.

He died in July 2005.


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