Big guns’ political showdown looms at the YIBC

Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo
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POLITICAL HEAVYWEIGHTS Michael Portillo and Lord Prescott will go head-to-head at the Yorkshire International Business Convention in Rotherham this spring, writes Bernard Ginns.

The pair were due to have met at YIBC in Leeds in 2012 but the former Deputy Prime Minister pulled out over the appearance of the Dalai Lama.

Organisers are promising “a showdown that will no doubt make Rotherham’s first staging of the YIBC one to remember”.

They are due to debate the state of the economy and are expected to share anecdotes from their time in Westminster, where they were diametrically opposed in class, belief and style.

Mr Portillo, a smooth-talking and urbane Cambridge graduate, was a strong admirer of Margaret Thatcher and held several cabinet posts.

Lord Prescott, a no-nonsense Yorkshireman, was a trade union activist who acted as a vital bridge between New Labour and the working class.

He has strong political connections with China and withdrew from the earlier scheduled bout in case he caused offence over Tibetan issues.

Howard Webb, the football referee, has also been confirmed as a speaker at the event on May 16.

The hometown boy will reflect on his appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and his thoughts ahead of this summer’s finals in Brazil.

Mike Firth, the event organiser, said: “With the addition of John, Michael and Howard to the speaker programme in Rotherham we are sure that we’ll provide a unique YIBC experience to the delegates.”

Other speakers include BBC business editor Robert Peston, adventurer Rosie Swale-Pope, actor Brian Blessed and inventor Richard Noble.

Mr Firth wants YIBC to become an annual event in the Sheffield city region. It is now firmly established in Bridlington.

Tickets for YIBC at Magna are available by visiting or by calling 01924 422 193.