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Howard the leader

Last updated: 2003-11-06

Michael Howard

Michael Howard

Former home secretary Michael Howard has been confirmed as leader of the Conservative party and becomes the the first Jewish leader of the Tories for over 100 years. SJ finds out more about the Welsh-born politician.

Following the vote of no confidence in Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith last week and no other candidates coming forward, Howard has been declared leader.

Speaking to fellow Tory MPs, Howard said: "It is an immense privilege to lead this party - the most successful party in the history of modern democracy. But it is also a truly awesome responsibility."

According to Conservative supporters, Howard is the best man to bring the party together and prepare it for the next general election.

Fellow MP, David Davis who many expected to join the race to be leader ruled himself out of the running and instead gave his support to Howard. Others who have given Howard their full backing include Oliver Letwin and Liam Fox. 

Howard, the son of a Romanian Jewish shopkeeper once faced the intervewing wrath of Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman. On being quizzed whether he intervened in a decision involving the sacking of a prison governor, Howard didn't answer. Paxman then proceeded to ask him the question a further 13 times without any answer.

Michael Howard facts:

Born July 7 1941 in Llanelli, Wales
Original family name was Hecht
In 1962 he was elected President of the Cambridge Union
Before entering politics, he was a barrister
He was elected Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe in 1983
In 1992, he was Secretary of State for the Environment
Between 1993 and 1997 Howard was Home Secretary