Peter Thorneycroft

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George Edward Peter Thorneycroft (26 July 1909 - 4 June 1994) was a notable British conservative politician. He was educated at Eton and the Royal Marine Artillery, Woolwich, served as a regular artillery officer (1930-33), then left the army to become a barrister.

He was elected to parliament in 1938. During the war he was an active member of the Tory Reform Committee, which pressed for the acceptance of large-scale social reform by the party. He lost his seat in 1945, but returned in a by-election later the same year in another constituency.

After the Conservative Party won the general election in 1951, Churchill appointed him President of the Board of Trade. He kept this office in Eden's government, too. When Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister in January 1957, he appointed him Chancellor of the Exchequer. Tensions between the two of them soon appeared as Thorneycroft took a fairly austere position on economic policy while Macmillan wanted more expansionary measures. Thorneycroft and his team, two junior ministers, Enoch Powell and Nigel Birch, managed to persuade the government to accept serious cuts in expenditure, and they almost reached their target, when Macmillan decided to withdraw his support within the Cabinet. As an answer Thorneycroft and his two junior ministers resigned. Macmillan famously dismissed the resignations as "little local difficulties" and appointed a more "flexible" person as Chancellor.

Only two years later Thorneycroft was brought back to the government first as Aviation Minister and then as Minister of Defence. He lost his seat in the 1966 general election. He was made a life peer the following year and pursued his business interests.

Members of the House of Lords rarely return to the center of British politics, but Margaret Thatcher appointed him as party chairman in 1975, a post which he held for six years.

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