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George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, Baron Thorneycroft CH, PC (26 July 1909 – 4 June 1994), was a Britishmarker Conservative Party politician. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1957 and 1958.


Thorneycroft was educated at Etonmarker and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. After service in the Royal Artillery from 1931 until 1933 he was called to the bar for Inner Templemarker. He entered Parliamentmarker in a 1938 by-election for the borough of Stafford. During the Second World War he served with the Royal Artillery and the general staff. Along with other members of the Tory Reform Committee, Thorneycroft pressed his party to support the Beveridge Report. He served in the Conservative caretaker government of 1945 as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of War Transportmarker. In the 1945 general election, he lost his seat to his Labour opponent, Stephen Swingler, but returned in a by-election for Monmouthmarker a few months later.

Throughout the late 1940s Thorneycroft worked assiduously to refurbish the Conservative Party after its disastrous defeat in the 1945 general election. His opposition to the Anglo-American loan in the Commons earned him a reputation as a parliamentary debater, and when the Conservatives returned to power after the general election of 1951 Thorneycroft was named President of the Board of Trade. He was instrumental in persuading the government in 1954 to abandon the party's support for protectionism and accept the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Thorneycroft's support for Harold Macmillan in the Macmillan's successful 1957 leadership contest for the premiership led to his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of the most senior positions in the government. He resigned in 1958, along with two junior Treasury Ministers, Enoch Powell and Nigel Birch, in objection to increased government expenditure. Macmillan, himself a former Chancellor, made a famous and much-quoted remark to the effect that the resignations were merely "little local difficulties". In reality, Macmillan was deeply concerned about the possible effects of Thorneycroft's resignation, but chose to hide his worries from public view. The phrase is now so well-known that most people do not know what or whom it refers to.

Thorneycroft returned to the Cabinet in 1960 and held a number of posts in government and then in opposition under Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home. Ted Heath, who became leader of the party in 1965, had been Chief Whip when Thorneycroft resigned in 1958 and had seen the resignation as a betrayal. Thorneycroft lost his seat at the 1966 general election and received a life peerage, taking a seat in the House of Lordsmarker as Baron Thorneycroft, of Dunston in the County of Stafford. He was Shadow Defence Secretary from 1964 to 1965.

Thorneycroft was a strong supporter of Margaret Thatcher's monetarist policies, and she made him Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1975. He held this position until 1981. He was notable as an amateur watercolourist and held exhibitions.


After his first marriage and divorce, he married his second wife Carla, Contessa Roberti, DBE in 1949.He had a son, by his first wife and a daughter by his second wife, Lady Carla Thorneycroft.


  2. Robert Shepard, "Theorneycroft, (George Edward) Peter", in The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 642

Further reading

Obituaries: The Times, 6 June 1994, The Daily Telegraph, 6 June 1994

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