Michael PortilloMichael Denzil Xavier Portillo (born May 26, 1953) is a British Conservative politician.
He was born in Bushey, Hertfordshire. His father was an exiled Spanish republican, Luis Gabriel and his mother, Cora Blyth, was Scottish. He was educated at Harrow County grammar school and then won a scholarship to Peterhouse, Cambridge where he came under the influence of Maurice Cowling. He graduated in 1975 with a degree in history, and after a brief stint with Ocean Transport and Trading Co., a freight firm, he joined the Conservative Research Department in 1976. Following the Conservative victory in 1979 he became a government adviser. He left to work for Kerr McGee Oil from 1981-83 and contested his first political seat in 1983 standing in Perry Barr, Birmingham against Jeff Rooker and losing badly. He returned to advisory work for the government and in 1984 he stood and won the Enfield Southgate by-election following the death of the incumbent, Anthony Berry, in the Brighton hotel bombing.
Portillo retained the Enfield Southgate seat until 1997. Initially he was a PPS to John Moore and then assistant whip, but he was clearly destined for higher office. In 1987 he was made under secretary for Social Security, in 1988 he was given his first ministerial post as Minister of State for Transport. He was then held the local government portfolio (1990). He demonstrated a consistently hard right line and was favoured by Norman Tebbit and Margaret Thatcher. His rise continued under John Major, he was made a cabinet minister as Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1992) and then held the portfolios of Employment (1994) and then Defence (1995-97). The Defence job was a reward for his cautious loyalty to Major during the leadership challenge of John Redwood.
He loss in the 1997 elections to Stephen Twigg was something of a shock. He renewed his attachment to Kerr McGee but also did substantial media work to maintain his profile including programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. He worked hard to reposition his reputation as more of a centre-right figure, even confessing to youthful homosexual dalliances.
He returned to parliament in late November 1999 representing Kensington and Chelsea, succeeding Alan Clark in this very safe Tory seat. He was in the Shadow Cabinet of William Hague from 2000. Following the 2001 elections he contested the leadership of the party but was knocked out in the final round of voting by Conservative MPs. When Iain Duncan Smith was elected leader Portillo returned to the backbenches. In 2003 he announced that he would not seek reselection as the Conservative candidate for the Kensington and Chelsea seat, and therefore would step down from the House of Commons at the next general election. He said that he expected to pursue his intrests in the media and the arts.
He has been married to Carolyn Eadie since 1982.