Former minister Michael Portillo gives pupils a lesson in politics
19th December 2018
TV presenter Michael Portillo, who as a Conservative Cabinet minister was once tipped for the top, visited Benenden School to talk all things politics and Brexit in front of an audience made up of parents, pupils and staff.
Referring to the infamous night in 1997 when he was defeated in his Enfield Southgate seat by Labour, Mr Portillo said: “Losing my seat did relieve me of having to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party – not a prospect I relished.”
Mr Portillo later returned to Parliament and stood for party leadership in a race won by Iain Duncan Smith.
The public speaker also said that while he had long been concerned about the loss of British sovereignty in being involved in the European Union, he never wanted there to be a referendum, and called former prime minister David Cameron’s decision to call one as a ‘catastrophe’.
He also urged pupils considering a career in politics to have another one to fall back on, saying most political careers ended in ‘failure and tears’.
He said you never knew in life what was around the corner, and cited how he was approached for his railway journeys TV series ten years after making a documentary in which he visited his father’s Spanish home town.
He said: “All through life we are dropping little acorns as we go.
“You have no idea which of these is going to flourish.”