John Major was appointed Prime Minister on 28 November 1990 and served in that position until May 1997. In April, he led the Conservative Party to an unprecedented fourth term in Office at the General Election.
Mr. Major was born in 1943 and educated at Rutlish Grammar School. He left school at the age of 16 and held a number of casual jobs before entering Banking in 1963. He became a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers.
Mr. Major became involved in politics at the age of 16 and, in 1968, won his first Election to a local authority in Lambeth. He stood for Parliament twice in the 1970s, before securing election to Huntingdon in 1979.
In parliament Mr. Major served in the Government for 16 years and in the Cabinet for 10 years. He became Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1987; and in July 1989 was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, a position he held for 94 days before being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in October of that year. Earlier Mr. Major became a Junior Whip in 1983; Senior Whip in 1984; Parliamentary Secretary 1985; and Minister of State for Social Security and the Disabled 1986.
As Prime Minister, Mr. Major focused his efforts upon securing peace in Northern Ireland and upholding Britain’s position in the world community as a political, social and economic leader. He was Prime Minister throughout the Gulf War and, at home, instigated long-term reforms in education, health and public services. On May 1, 1997 he handed over the strongest economy and incoming Government had inherited. On New Year’s Day 1999, the Queen appointed him a Companion of Honour in recognition of his initiation of the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Mr. Major decided to retire from the House of Commons at the last UK General Election in May 2001. His business interests are Chairman of the European Board of the Carlyle Group, Washington, DC; Senior Adviser to Credit Suisse First Boston; Chairman of the European Advisory Council of the Emerson Electric Company, St Louis; and a Board Director of the Mayflower Corporation. He is Chairman of the Council of the Ditchley Foundation and on the International Advisory Boards of the Peres Centre for Peace in Israel, the Interaction Council in Tokyo, the Baker Institute in Houston; and Patron of the Atlantic Partnership. His charitable interests include the Presidency of the National Asthma Campaign; Patron of the Child of Achievement Awards; Mercy Ships and Support for Africa 2000. He also takes an active interest in the work of other charities.
Mr. Major became President of Surrey County Cricket Club at The Oval in April 2000, where his lifetime passion for cricket was born. His leisure interests also include football, opera and reading.
Mr. Major has been married to Dame Norma since 1970 (she was appointed a Dame of the British Empire in June 1999 in recognition of her charitable work for disabled people). They have two children, Elizabeth and James, both of whom are married; and one grandson, Harry, born in July 2000.