Portillo defeat is a Yeo blow

PUBLISHED: 13:28 18 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

SOUTH Suffolk MP Tim Yeo believes he has missed out on the chance of a top shadow job after Michael Portillo's defeat in the Tory leadership race.

SOUTH Suffolk MP Tim Yeo today believes that he has missed out on the chance of a top shadow job after Michael Portillo's defeat in the Tory leadership race.

On the morning after the night before Mr Yeo told The Evening Star that his future on the front bench was uncertain.

"I don't know whether the eventual winner will invite me to be a member of the shadow cabinet," he admitted.

"If Michael had won I could have expected a senior job – but as it is, I don't know. But I would be honoured to serve the party in some capacity."

The shadow agriculture minister was one of Mr Portillo's key backers during the leadership election – but was not expecting to endorse either of the two remaining candidates.

"I'm not sure that my endorsement now would be helpful anyway because I was so closely identified with Michael's campaign.

"I do feel that the party has now lost the chance of being led by the outstanding politician of his generation – someone who appreciated the need for the party to reform," he said.

While Mr Yeo was disappointed, Edward Wild – who fought Ipswich at the election – was in buoyant mood.

He is a member of Kenneth Clarke's election team at Westminster and is preparing to help him win the hearts and minds of 300,000 party members in the run-off with right-winger Iain Duncan Smith.

"There is a growing belief that Ken is the man who can turn round the fortunes of the party and appeal to the voters we have lost over the last 10 years," he said.

Mr Clarke is also backed by former cabinet minister John Gummer. Mr Duncan Smith has not been publicly backed by any Suffolk MPs but it is thought that he has the support of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Sir Michael Lord.

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