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Howard greets new Midland Conservatives.

Byline: Political Editor

Michael Howard welcomed four new Conservative MPs from the West Midlands to the House of Commons with a prediction that they would help win a General Election for the Tories.

Seats which fell to Mr Howard's party last week included Shrewsbury, The Wrekin, and Ludlow, all in Shropshire, and Rugby & Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

The new Conservative intake gathered outside the main entrance to the Palace of Westminster to meet Mr Howard, who has announced he is to stand down as party leader.

He said the new arrivals were 'brimming with talent' and compared them to the influx of Tory MPs in 1950, when Winston Churchill saw his party's ranks in Parliament increase by 101.

Having slashed Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee's majority in that poll, the wartime leader went on to win power in a General Election just 20 months later.

Mr Howard said: 'Just as those who have a sense of history will remember, the 1950 intake, who absolutely transformed the House of Commons and set the scene for the next Conservative victory of 1951, so I am absolutely convinced that this splendid new intake, brimming with talent, is going to set the scene for the next Conservative victory.'

The Conservatives won 37 seats from other parties, and another 17 Tory MPs are new to the Commons after replacing retiring colleagues.

But there is much more to do before the party can form a government, the Midland MPs admitted. New MP Philip Dunne, who won Ludlow from the Liberal Democrats, said: 'We came very close in a large number of seats in the West Midlands.

'So I am very hopeful we can consolidate on the results this time and win them at the next election,' he added And Mark Pritchard, who took back The Wrekin from Labour, said: 'We have some excellent new MPs and this is an important step towards forming a Conservative government after the next election

CAPTION(S):

Conservative party leader Michael Howard is applauded by new Conservative members of Parliament outside St Stephen's Gate when he welcomed his party's 54 new MPs to Parliament, claiming that their arrival at Westminster paved the way to Tory victory at the next election
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 10, 2005
Words:368
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