Famed for the Great British Railway Journey series on BBC 2, Michael Portillo became a regular face on our television screens. The engaging speaker's background in politics and support of Brexit means he can speak candidly and insightfully on the future of Britain - an excellent choice for the corporate circuit. Professional and polite, Michael is an ideal keynote speaker.
A charismatic and engaging keynote speaker, Michael Portillo has made the successful move from politics to TV and journalism.
Perhaps best known for five series of Great British Railway Journeys and two series of Great Continental Railway Journeys on BBC 2, exploring social and industrial history Michael appeared weekly on BBC 1's late night sardonic look at politics, This Week for eleven years. He's also been a regular for a decade on Radio 4's The Moral Maze.
After studying at Peterhouse, Cambridge, he gained a first-class degree in History. Following a short stint in a shipping company, Michael moved to the Conservative Research Department in 1976, where he spent three years. At the General Election in 1979 he was responsible for briefing Margaret Thatcher before her press conferences. For the next two years, he was special adviser to the Secretary of State for Energy.
He worked for Kerr McGee Oil (UK) Ltd from 1981 - 1983. He contested the Birmingham Perry Bar seat at the 1983 Election.
Portillo won the 1984 by-election in Enfield Southgate, caused by the murder of Sir Anthony Berry MP in the Brighton bombing. He represented the seat for thirteen years but was defeated in the 1997 Election.
He joined the Government in 1986, and remained a member until 1997. He was a whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Social Security, Minister of State for Transport, Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities; and as a Cabinet Minister was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and Secretary of State for Defence. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1992.
After his 1997 electoral defeat, he returned to Kerr McGee as an adviser. He also turned to journalism. Michael wrote about walking as a pilgrim on the Santiago Way, and working as a hospital porter. He had a weekly column in The Scotsman and a three-part series for Channel 4 about politics, Portillo’s Progress. He also had a programme in BBC2’s Great Railway Journeys series, which was partly a biography of his late father, and radio programmes on Wagner and the Spanish Civil War.
He has made a number of television programmes for BBC2 including Art that shook the world: Richard Wagner’s Ring, Portillo in Euroland, Elizabeth I in the series Great Britons and When Michael Portillo became a single mum.
Michael was re-elected to Parliament in a by-election in Kensington and Chelsea in November 1999 and was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer February 2000 - September 2001.
Following the Conservatives’ election defeat in 2001, Portillo contested the leadership of the party. He was unsuccessful, and decided to return to the backbenches. In 2005, he retired from politics.
Portillo is a member of the International Commission on Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia (which organises the identification of massacre victims) under the chairmanship of Jim Kimsey, and a member of the Board of BAE Systems plc.
Michael is able to comment on current and political affairs, instrumental in the Brexit campaign also, he can offer advice and insights into the future of the country outside the EU.
A charismatic and engaging keynote speaker, Michael has made the successful move from politics to TV and journalism.