Letter: The real Mr Portillo

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From Mr Dick Taverne

Sir: Andrew Lansley argues ("In praise of the maligned Mr Portillo", 10 January) that Michael Portillo is much misrepresented.

Mr Portillo has stated that there is no room in the Conservative Party for those who are federalists and want a United States of Europe, like the Liberal Democrats. In fact, Liberal Democrats are not committed to a United States of Europe, which, contrary to the Portillo misrepresentations, is not on the agenda. As for "federalist", this is a vague term, which means very different things to different people. What is true is that Liberal Democrats do favour monetary union, as does Emma Nicholson, and Mr Portillo clearly implied that others who do should not belong to the Conservative Party.

Further, even Mr Lansley must find it hard to deny that Mr Portillo's conference speech was chauvinistic, with its anti-Brussels rant and its appropriation of the SAS as the apotheosis of Conservative values. Mr Portillo also for a while made it part of his staple speech to accuse foreigners of buying their degrees.

Who is misrepresenting him?

Yours faithfully,

Dick Taverne

London, SW1

10 January