- Edward Leigh
name = Edward Leigh
honorific-suffix = MP
constituency_MP = Gainsborough
9 June 1983
majority = 8,003 (17.5%)
predecessor = Marcus Kimball
birth_date = Birth date and age|1950|07|20|df=yes
birth_place = Kensington,
nationality = British
spouse = Mary Goodman
party = Conservative
footnotes = Edward Julian Egerton Leigh (born
20 July 1950) is a UK politician. He sits in the British House of Commonsas Conservative Member of Parliamentfor Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, for which he was first elected in 1983, although the constituency was named Gainsborough and Horncastle between 1983 and 1997. He has served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee since 2001. Apart from being dubbed "the Viscount" upon his arrival in the Commons, no doubt an allusion to his landed gentry background, he is next best known for his opposition to abortion, contraceptionand genetic research and for his anti- gay rightsstance.
He was educated at
The Oratory School, the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle(the French school in London), before going up to University College, Durhamwhere he read History(BA Hons) and became President of the Durham Union Society. Before entering politics, he qualified as a barristerof the Inner Temple, and practised in arbitrationand criminal lawas a member of Goldsmiths Chambers. He is a Fellowof the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Leigh was elected a member of Richmond Borough Council and then of the Greater London Council, serving as Councillorbetween 1974 and 1981.
Edward Leigh is a son of the late Sir Neville Leigh KCVO, a former Clerk to the Privy Council, of the West Hall,
High Leghfamily, and a nephew of Princess Nikolai Galitzine. He has six children (sons born 1988, 1994 and 1997, and daughters born 1985, 1987 and 1990) by his wife, Mary Goodman, the grandniece of George, Duke of Mecklenburg, whom he married on September 25 1984in London[http://pages.prodigy.net/ptheroff/gotha/mecklenburg.html] . A descendant of King Henry VII himself through his Egerton ancestors, his wife is a descendant of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, making his children about 600th in the line of succession to the British throne, although as Catholicscurrently they would be barred from succession.
An ardent supporter of
Margaret Thatcher, Leigh and a colleague, Michael Brown MP, visited Number 10 Downing Streeton the morning Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, hoping to persuade her to carry on. Charles Powelladvised them it was a forlorn task, but nonetheless they were granted access to the Cabinetwhich was meeting at the time. Their efforts in vain, Leigh and Brown left Number 10 and reputedly walked down Whitehallwith tears in their eyes. In the ensuing leadership election, Leigh supported Michael Heseltine, under whom he had served at the Department of Trade and Industry(DTI), and is attributed with asserting that Heseltine had "stabbed" Thatcher in the front, not in the back like some other MPs.
Leigh served as a Minister in
John Major's Government but was sacked in May 1993 over the position he took in oppositing to the Maastricht Treaty. Whilst in office at the DTI he was a keen advocate of privatisationof the Post Office, a debate which is still ongoing. In the following Conservative leadership election, Leigh supported John Redwood.
In October 2006 Leigh was vocal in stating that after
David Cameronhad become Leader of his party, core supporters were drifting away from voting Conservative. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1885228,00.html] Nonetheless, despite landing on the losing side in successive party leadership elections, his appointment as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has led to the rejuvenation of his parliamentary career, earning him plaudits from numerous and sometimes unexpected quarters. He is widely acknowledged as a highly effective Chairman who has exposed numerous governmental blunders, including the disastrous Tax Credit scheme.
In early 2008, he relied on flawed Department for Transport statistics to attack motorcyclists for tax evasion. He accused 38% of motorcyclists of evading vehicle excise duty. He later apologised for this following the admission by the Department for Transport that 95.5% of motorcycles are entirely legal. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7268854.stm]
Leigh is a key figure in the popular socially conservative
Cornerstone Group, which represents the views of around 40 Conservative Members of Parliament. Cornerstone members including Leigh regularly blog about political and social issues on their website and in doing so seek to influence public opinion.
* [http://edward-leigh.net/default.aspx Edward Leigh MP's official site]
* [http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&personID=4912 Edward Leigh MP's biography at the site of the Conservative Party]
* [http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/committee_of_public_accounts.cfm Public Accounts Committee]
* [http://www.epolitix.com/EN/MPWebsites/Edward+Leigh/ ePolitix.com - Edward Leigh]
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-3070,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Edward Leigh MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/edward_leigh/gainsborough TheyWorkForYou.com - Edward Leigh MP]
* [http://publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Edward_Leigh&mpc=Gainsborough The Public Whip - Edward Leigh MP voting record]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/mpdb/html/260.stm BBC News - Edward Leigh profile, 15 February 2005]
* [http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_white/2007/01/post_995.html Guardian writer Michael White hailing Leigh's redemption - 2007]
* [http://www.supplymanagement.com/Edit/newsmail_article.asp?id=17155 Interview with Edward Leigh November 2007]
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