Heseltine, Michael Ray Dibdin (hĕsˈəltĪnˌ, hĕzˈ–) [key], 1933–, British politician. After studying law at Oxford, he built a successful career in publishing before entering the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1966. He held junior posts in the Heath government (1970–74). In Margaret Thatcher's government, he was secretary for the environment (1979–83) and then secretary for defense in 1983, resigning in protest over his treatment in the 1986 Westland helicopter affair, which involved the leak of a confidential communication. He was regarded as Thatcher's strongest rival and initiated a challenge to her leadership in 1990. She resigned, but John Major assumed the prime ministership. Heseltine again became environmental secretary and was responsible for repealing the highly unpopular poll tax. In 1992 he became president of the Board of Trade and secretary for trade and industry; from 1995 to 1997 he was deputy prime minister under Major.
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