Prescott and Portillo star at business convention

John Prescott and Michael Portillo
John Prescott and Michael Portillo
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FOR more than 20 years, they were front-line political foes.

Yesterday Lord Prescott, the former Labour Deputy Prime Minster, and Michael Portillo, the former Tory Cabinet Minister, were united on stage by their love of railways.

They were among the guests at the Yorkshire International Business Convention, which was held at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham. During a question and answer session, Mr Portillo said that the “magic moment” of his career, came when, as Transport Minister, he saved the Settle to Carlisle line, which was threatened with closure in the late 1980s. He added afterwards: “The letter that saved the Settle to Carlisle line is signed by me. I can really find my fingerprints on the decision.”

Mr Portillo also said that Prime Minister David Cameron was “much less clear cut” about establishing the Conservative Party on the centre ground, because he’s worried about UKIP.

Mr Portillo said afterwards: “The party talks a lot about immigration and talks a lot about the European Union, which many people interpret as a movement to the right.”

For Lord Prescott, the event gave him the chance to visit his childhood home in nearby Brinsworth where he grew up in a “railway community”. He said he had bought a new seat for the street in Brinsworth, because he wanted to give something back to the local community. “The thing that’s influenced me most in the development of my character is Rotherham,’’ he said. “My heart is here.” There will be more coverage of the business convention in next week’s Business Tuesday.