Michael Portillo MP to stand down from Parliament at the next election
Michael Portillo announced today that he plans to withdraw from Parliament at the next election, whenever that is called. I am sorry about this, but in no way surprised - I expected it. His announcement was prompted, he tells us, because he had been invited by Mr Michael Howard, new Leader of the Conservative Party, to join his Shadow Cabinet. Being an honourable man, Mr Portillo felt duty-bound to advise Mr Howard of his longer-term intentions, rather than join his Shadow Cabinet, only to leave it when the next election is called.
As for me not being surprised, I am only surprised he stuck it out so long. It is clear that he is not liked by the bulk of the current membership of the Party - I repeat what I said a couple of days ago, in a slightly different context: "the loss is far greater to the Party than I expect it is to Portillo". I have little doubt that Mr Portillo will employ his time usefully in the interests of his constituents in Kensington & Chelsea in the time he remains an MP and that he will continue to be an admirable figure in whatever he chooses to do after that.
The BBC has put up a profile and the Telegraph lists some of his more memorable comments. Both are interesting to read, but of course neither is an 'obituary' - he will, I hope, be around for a long time to come.