Margaret Thatcher contemplated a comeback for disgraced minister Cecil Parkinson two years before he eventually returned to the front-bench but feared such a move would tarnish the party.
The married trade and industry secretary was forced to stand down in 1983 after it was revealed his former secretary Sara Keays was carrying his child.
The scandal derailed the career of a man considered an integral part of the Conservative election campaign earlier that year and a close friend of Lady Thatcher.
He eventually returned to the Cabinet in 1987 but newly released documents from the former Prime Minister’s private papers show she seriously considered his return to front-line politics in 1985.
A document from the chief whip’s office setting out the proposed new cabinet shows the name Norman Tebbit crossed out as secretary of state for trade and industry and “Parkinson” written in by hand.
However, the files also make clear views within the part were split over the plan.
Stephen Sherbourne, her then political secretary, wrote: “I am one of his real fans.
“His return to the Cabinet would be popular with men but unpopular with many women in the party.”