Born the child of a carpenter and a lady's maid, Heath was educated at a grammar school and became a leader within student politics while studying at the University of Oxford. He served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. He worked briefly in the Civil Service, but resigned in order to stand for Parliament, and was elected for Bexley at the 1950 election. He was promoted to become Chief Whip by Anthony Eden in 1955, and in 1959 was appointed to the Cabinet by Harold Macmillan as Minister of Labour. He later held the role of Lord Privy Seal and in 1963, was made President of the Board of Trade by Alec Douglas-Home. After the Conservatives were defeated at the 1964 election, Heath was elected as Leader of the Conservative Party in 1965, becoming Leader of the Opposition. Although he led the Conservatives to a landslide defeat at the 1966 election, he remained in the leadership, and at the 1970 election led his party to an unexpected victory.
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