Born in Enfield. He was a journalist on the Financial Times, before serving with the RAF during four years of National Service. On leaving the RAF he joined BOAC in 1953 as a pilot. he entered politics in 1970.
He was a close ally of Margaret Thatcher and served as her Secretary of State for Employment, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and President of the Board of Trade (October 1983 - September 1985), as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and as party chairman (1985 - 1987). During the Brighton hotel bombing he was injured and his wife, Margaret, was permanently disabled.
In the aftermath of urban riots in the summer of 1981, Tebbit responded to a suggestion that the rioting was caused by unemployment by saying:
Tebbit decided not to stand in the 1992 election. After the election he was granted a peerage and entered the House of Lords. His former seat of Chingford was aggregated with Woodford Green in boundary changes and was held for the Conservative Party by his successor, and protégé, Iain Duncan Smith.
He is a extreme Eurosceptic and his outspoken views on race and immigration have brought him both support and opprobrium (he was nicknamed the "Chingford skinhead").