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Michael was born in Northern Ireland, and brought up in Scotland.
He worked for a year as a Parliamentary Researcher for Lib Dem MP Archy Kirkwood and then joined, what is now, PwC; qualifying as a Scottish chartered accountant.
In 1997 Michael was elected to the House of Commons, representing the Scottish Borders. In Opposition he focused on Scottish, European and international affairs.
He served as Secretary of State for Scotland in the Coalition, legislating for more powers for the Scottish Parliament and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement, paving the way for the independence referendum.