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1990: Tories choose Major for Number 10

VIDEO : Major triumphs over Heseltine in election duel

John Major is to be Britain's new prime minister after winning the Conservatives' leadership election.

Mr Major, 47, will visit the Queen at 1030 BST tomorrow to be formally appointed and will return to Downing Street as the youngest British leader this century.

Currently serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Major did not achieve the majority required for an absolute victory, but the margin was clear enough for his rivals to withdraw and a third ballot was avoided.

Mr Major - who has been in parliament for only 11 years - said he was enormously encouraged so many had voted for him and would discharge his responsibilities to the best of his ability.

"I want everyone in the party to rally behind him"

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Current Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigned after Michael Heseltine challenged her for the leadership and close friends said she would lose.

The outcome of the ballot was announced by the chairman of the influential Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Cranley Onslow.

Mr Major received 185 votes, Mr Heseltine 131, and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd trailed in with just 56.

The Huntingdon MP was just three votes short of an absolute majority.

But within minutes of the results being read out both Mr Major's challengers withdrew from the contest.

Mr Heseltine said it had been a campaign fought between colleagues without rancour and one which laid the foundations of unity in the party.

Mr Hurd told reporters he was convinced Mr Major was the right man to lead the party.


Mrs Thatcher also endorsed the new leader, saying she was thrilled with the choice.

"I want everyone in the party to rally behind him," she said.

Mr Major said he looked forward to leading the party to further victories.

"We're going to unite totally and absolutely and we're going to win the next general election," he said.

In Context
John Major led the Conservatives to victory in the party's fourth successive general election success in 1992.

He remained prime minister until May 1997 when the Tories were ousted from power by a Labour landslide win.

He stepped down as leader of the party soon after the defeat.

Mr Major continued to be MP for Huntingdon until 2001.

Since his departure from politics he has concentrated his efforts on writing his memoirs, public speaking, consultancy and his favourite leisure activity, cricket.

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