Edward Leigh

Infobox MP
honorific-prefix =
name = Edward Leigh
honorific-suffix = MP

caption =
constituency_MP = Gainsborough
parliament =
term_start = 9 June 1983
term_end =
majority = 8,003 (17.5%)
predecessor = Marcus Kimball
successor =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1950|07|20|df=yes
birth_place = Kensington, London
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse = Mary Goodman
party = Conservative
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater = Durham University
occupation =
profession =
religion =

website =
footnotes =
Edward Julian Egerton Leigh (born 20 July 1950) is a UK politician. He sits in the British House of Commons as Conservative Member of Parliament for 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, contraception and genetic research and for his anti-gay rights stance.

He was educated at The Oratory School, the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle (the French school in London), before going up to University College, Durham where he read History (BA Hons) and became President of the Durham Union Society. Before entering politics, he qualified as a barrister of the Inner Temple, and practised in arbitration and criminal law as a member of Goldsmiths Chambers. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Leigh was elected a member of Richmond Borough Council and then of the Greater London Council, serving as Councillor between 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 Legh family, 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 1984 in 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 Catholics currently they would be barred from succession.

An ardent supporter of Margaret Thatcher, Leigh and a colleague, Michael Brown MP, visited Number 10 Downing Street on the morning Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, hoping to persuade her to carry on. Charles Powell advised them it was a forlorn task, but nonetheless they were granted access to the Cabinet which was meeting at the time. Their efforts in vain, Leigh and Brown left Number 10 and reputedly walked down Whitehall with 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 privatisation of 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 Cameron had 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.

External links

* [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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