Rt Hon Michael Portillo
Broadcaster and Political Commentator
The former MP and cabinet minister Michael Portillo is now firmly established as a popular broadcaster and political commentator.
Michael began his career in the UK Conservative Party research department, developing policies for reducing the role of the state. He then became an advisor to the Secretary of State for Energy, working on privatisation schemes in oil, gas, electricity and coal.
Winning a parliamentary seat in the 1984 UK General Election, Michael was soon appointed a Government Whip and then Under-Secretary at the Department of Health & Social Security. In turn he was promoted to Minister of State for Transport then Local Government, where he oversaw the abolition of the poll tax. He entered Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, controlling public spending and managing departmental allocations. He became Employment Secretary two years later, and finally took over at Defence. In total he served for thirty years in national politics with over a decade as a minister in the Thatcher and Major governments.
After leaving Westminster, Michael reinvented himself as a broadcaster and is a regular on TV and radio. He is perhaps best known for his five series of Great British Railway Journeys and two series of Great Continental Railway Journeys on BBC 2, exploring social and industrial history as he travels.