Hurd pays tribute to Redwood's courage

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The Independent Online
Douglas Hurd yesterday predicted that John Redwood would return to office and praised his courage in standing against John Major, writes Colin Brown.

The former Foreign Secretary, who stepped down from the Cabinet in last week's reshuffle, reinforced the view of many Tory MPs that Mr Redwood has outflanked Michael Portillo as the champion of the right.

"He has shown courage. He has put himself on the map ... Although I disagree [with him], he will reap the reward of that courage. He is better known and part of the Conservative debate.

"One day, I would be surprised if he didn't become a minister again," said Mr Hurd.

Although Mr Hurd did not say when Mr Redwood might return to office, his remarks on BBC Television's Breakfast with Frost are unlikely to be welcomed by Mr Major. Mr Redwood warned MPs during the campaign that they would lose the general election under Mr Major's leadership with the slogan, "No change, no chance". Mr Redwood's supporters believe that Mr Major made a tactical error in not offering to take Mr Redwood back into the Cabinet, thereby gagging him with collective responsibility.

Mr Redwood has privately told friends that he would have found it difficult to refuse the offer of a seat in Mr Major's Cabinet. Rejecting a magnanimous gesture might have lost him some of the public support he gained during his campaign.

The former Secretary of State for Wales has privately admitted he feels "a sense of release" at being outside the Cabinet and free to speak against tax increases and failures to rein back public expenditure.

The Redwood bandwagon will continue rolling in spite of MPs' vote of confidence for the Prime Minister. He has been inundated with invitations to speak to Conservative constituency associations and is planning to raise his banner at a fringe meeting at the Tory conference in October.

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