By Humphrey Carter

THE Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, Ann Widdecombe, will next week be in Palma for one of her last overseas speaking events as an MP as she plans to step down at the next election after serving Maidstone for 20 years.

Widdecombe will be making her second official trip to Palma to address members of British Conservatives Abroad at a gala dinner being held in her honour at the Santa Ponsa Golf Club on Saturday, June 14.

Peter Newey, the chairman of Conservatives Abroad said it is a “very special event for the Branch and it has been in her diary for two years... that's how long we've had to wait to get her here. “So far we have over 40 attending the dinner with numbers likely to exceed 50 and that will be the largest number of people attending an event since William Hague came here,” added Newey.

Widdecombe, who in 2001 attempted to enter the contest for leadership of the Conservative Party, announced her decision in October last year.
Over the past two decades she has been a key and vocal figure in British politics and has occupied important posts in government and opposition.
Widdecombe joined John Major's government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security in 1990. In 1993 she became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Employment being promoted to Minister of State the following year.

In 1995 she became Minister of State at the Home Office and Minister in Charge of Prisons, and in that role visited every single prison in Britain.
After the fall of the Conservative government to Labour in 1997 she served as shadow Health Secretary between 1998 and 1999 and later shadow Home Secretary between 1999 and 2001 under William Hague.

Her non-political accomplishments include being a popular novelist. In 2002, she took part in the ITV programme Celebrity Fit Club. In March of 2004 she briefly became the Guardian newspaper's agony aunt, introduced with an Emma Brockes interview. In 2005 BBC Two showed six episodes of The Widdecombe Project, an agony aunt television programme. In 2005, she appeared in a new series of Celebrity Fit Club, but this time as a panel member dispensing wisdom and advice to the celebrities taking part. Also in 2005, she presented a show Ann Widdecombe to the Rescue in which she acted as an agony aunt, dispensing no-nonsense advice to disputing families, couples, and others across the UK.

She was also a guest host of news quiz Have I Got News for You in 2006, and hosted the programme again in November 2007, (she and Kirsty Young, are the only two women to have hosted the show more than once) when she disclosed she owned a cat named “Arbuthnot”.

She awarded the 2007 University Challenge trophy. In the same year, she was cast as herself in “The Sound of Drums”, the 12th episode of the third series of the science-fiction drama Doctor Who supporting Mr Saxon, the alias of the Master. In 2007, Widdecombe fronted a television series called Ann Widdecombe Versus, on ITV1, in which she spoke to various people about things related to her as an MP, with an emphasis on confronting those responsible for problems she wished to tackle.

Ann Widdecombe has made appearances on television and radio, and presented the Lent Talks on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year.
In 2005, she appeared in a discussion programme on Five to discuss who England's greatest monarch since the Norman Conquest had been - her choice of monarch was Charles II.

Widdecombe has clearly led life to the full inside and outside of Westminster and will no doubt have plenty of fascinating things to talk about with members of British Conservatives Abroad next Saturday here, in particular the Conservative Party's current rival in the polls and what would appear the party's return to government.

For tickets, call Pat Stone on 971402934