Michael Portillo is a British journalist, broadcaster, former MP, and former cabinet minister for the ‘Conservative Party.’ He entered the ‘House of Commons’ in 1984, after winning the elections for the first time. Michael was born and raised in Hertfordshire. He started gaining fame at the tender age of 6, when he appeared in a commercial for ‘Ribena,’ a cordial drink. He graduated with a degree in history. In the late 1970s, he started working as an advisor to the ministry of energy in the British government. His political career bloomed in the late 1980s. Following this, he continued to be promoted to different posts and entered the cabinet in 1992. Following his active political stint that spanned a few years, he retired from politics in 2005. Since then, he has actively pursued his mass-media interests. He is best known for the ‘BBC’ documentary series ‘Great Railway Journeys,’ which showcased him traveling across countries in trains and documenting his experiences. Some of his documentaries are ‘Great British Railway Journeys,’ ‘Great American Railroad Journeys,’ and ‘Great Indian Railway Journeys.’ He has frequently worked with ‘BBC’ on several of their shows and has served them as a writer and host.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Portillo was born on May 26, 1953, in Bushey, Hertfordshire, to Luis Gabriel Portillo and Cora Waldergrave. His father was a Spanish republican but was exiled from his own country. His mother was Scottish.
After landing in Britain, his father continued with politics. Although he was a conservative himself, he associated himself with the British left-wing parties in the 1930s. In 1972, he became the head of the London diplomatic office of the government in exile.
His family was extremely rich, as Michael’s grandfather owned a prosperous business and a linen mill. Growing up in the household with three older brothers, Michael earned a Spanish citizenship at the age of 4, along with a Spanish name.
While all his older brothers were interested in sports, Michael was not. Owing to his intellectual parents, Michael studied hard and also read books on general knowledge, which broadened his view of the world. He attended ‘Stanburn Primary School’ in Greater London and then attended ‘Harrow County School for Boys.’
He earned good grades in class, and that enabled him to earn a scholarship to the ‘Peterhouse College’ of the ‘University of Cambridge.’ As a teenager, he had a variety of interests that included politics, books, and cinema.
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By the time he was 8 years of age, Michael had already made his mark. He appeared in a commercial for a cordial drink named ‘Ribena.’ He started his political career after he graduated in history with a first-class degree at the age of 22. Soon after his graduation, he started working at the ‘Ocean Transport and Trading Ltd.’
After a while, he joined the ‘Conservative Research Department’ in 1976. In 1979, the ‘Conservative Party’ came into the power and Michael got a job as an advisor for the department of energy.
He fought his first elections from Birmingham Perry Barr in 1983 but lost. In the mid-1980s, he fought an election for a place in the ‘House of Commons’ and ended up winning a seat for himself. Thus, he earned his first ministerial post in 1987.
In 1992, he was made the chief secretary to the treasury, and a couple of years later, he was promoted to the post of the secretary of state for employment. He then became the secretary of state for defense.
However, his political career was marred with criticism on many fronts. He was known to live an exuberant life and was known in the media as “Portaloo.” He once rented ‘Alexandra Palace’ to celebrate his decade-long career in politics. This gave rise to further allegations.
In the 1997 general election, he lost the Enfield Southgate seat to a ‘Labour Party’ candidate. This came as a shock to many political pundits. He kept losing in the following years and became a liability for the ‘Conservative Party.’ The 2005 general election marked the final nail in the coffin of Michael’s political career. Following this, he retired from politics permanently.
Michael Portillo married Carolyn Claire Eadie in February 1982.