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Personality n


Saving Lord Howard from ‘slobbery’


MICHAEL Howard has just spent half an hour with his ear glued to Radio 4’s Week in Westminster programme. Even 12 years after he left the frontline of British politics, when he stepped aside from the leadership of the Conservative Party to make way for the eventual successor and future Prime Minister David Cameron, old habits die hard, it appears.


And in the seven years since he stepped down as an MP, there have been three general elections – two resulting in hung parliaments - and a referendum to leave the European Union.


“Quite a lot has happened since I left! I like to keep an eye on what’s going on,” he jokes.


He and his wife, Sandra – now aged 77, although she hardly looks it – would not start any day without listening to the Today programme.


“You can’t not listen to it,” she says, “It’s virtually compulsory in political life.”


The Howards are at their five bedroom country home overlooking the Romney Marsh, near the village of Lympne.


After four decades in British politics, Lord Michael Howard and his wife, Lady Sandra, have been regarded as one of the steadiest – and happiest – marriages in British politics. They still escape London whenever they can to enjoy the country home overlooking Romney Marsh where Simon Finlay caught up with them…


It is a warm and cosy place – an Aga in the kitchen and logs burning in the open fireplace – with gentle, welcoming hues throughout. They spend as much time as they can here away from the demands of their commitments in the capital.


It has been their constituency home and now weekend retreat for more than two decades.


Michael says that he feels “very, very lucky” to have found it, even if he was not keen at the beginning.


Sandra spotted it in the property pages of the Folkestone Herald (the local newspaper) and went off to see it, while


he attended his weekly MP’s constituency surgery in the seaside town.


She recalls: “I wasn’t expecting to like it but I loved it instantly. I had to persuade you, didn’t I?”


He says: “No, I wasn’t too keen to begin with but I love it now. We had to sell the house in London and downsize a bit and I had to borrow more money than I really wanted. We just about managed it.”


It was built in 1921 by the watercolourist and writer Margaret Waterfield and the stunning work she produced, is faithfully reproduced in the


Mid Kent Living 7


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