Michael Howard MP

Former Leader of the Conservative Party and MP for Folkestone and Hythe

Michael Howard was born in 1941 and educated at Llanelli Grammar School and Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1962 he was elected President of the Cambridge Union. He was called to the Bar in 1964 and was appointed a QC in 1982.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe in 1983. In 1984 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Solicitor General. The following year he entered the Government as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry with responsibility for corporate and consumer affairs. In 1987 he moved to the Department of the Environment, first as Minister of State for Local Government and then as Minister of State for Water and Planning. In 1990 he entered the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment, abolishing the closed shop and playing a crucial role in negotiating the UKs opt-out from the Social Chapter at Maastricht.

Following the 1992 election, Michael Howard was appointed Secretary of State for the Environment. In this position he played a major role in securing the participation of the USA at the Earth Summit in Rio which he attended on behalf of the Government.

In May 1993 he became Home Secretary, a position he held for four years. During his term of office crime fell by an unprecedented 18%. When he left office, nearly a million fewer crimes a year were being committed than when he became Home Secretary four years previously.

Following the 1997 Election Michael Howard was appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary until his retirement from the Front Bench in June 1999.

In September 2001, under the Leadership of Iain Duncan Smith, he was invited to return to the front bench as Shadow Chancellor where he remained in post until November 2003.

Michael Howard was then elected as Leader of the Conservative Party, a position he held for over two years. He led the Party at the 2005 General Election, the first election in 22 years in which the Party gained a significant number of seats. In that election the Conservatives won more votes than Labour in England. Indeed if just 14,500 votes in the 34 seats which give Labour its majority had changed their vote, Labour would have been deprived of its majority.

The day after the election Michael Howard announced his decision to stand down as Leader of the Party but called for a debate on the future direction of the Party before the commencement of any leadership election. He submitted his resignation in November 2005, and, following the election of David Cameron on December 6th, handed over the leadership to him.

Michael Howard continues to represent Folkestone and Hythe at Westminster, but will retire at the next General Election.

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