‘You have reminded me, Mr Speaker, that for a minister resigning, permission to make a Personal Statement to the House is granted entirely at your discretion and should be of an explanatory nature. With the speech of the Noble Lord, Lord Howe, in mind, I too will keep mine short: to a thousand words. Members opposite will forgive me if the burden of what I have to say is addressed to my own party even if the implications are perhaps of interest to a wider audience.
‘I can no longer serve as a minister in this Cabinet. I have come to doubt I should have accepted office in the first place. I was unsure my party was doing the right thing last year in effectively replacing one prime minister with another without a contest either within our party or at the polls.
‘My reasons for silence then were several. It would have been pointless to call for a contest unless there were colleagues prepared to precipitate it by standing. There were not; and, after hesitating, I decided I should not stand myself. I thought my right honourable friend the Prime Minister might well plan an election shortly after taking office; or that in office he might quickly prove so popular and capable that the case for a mandate fell away.
‘Neither has happened. And in drafting this speech I have tried, Mr Speaker, to find words to convey my meaning without brutality; but I cannot. My right honourable friend is not the right person for the position he holds, and many have lost confidence that he will find, or could recover, the capacity to succeed. Those many include me. It would therefore be wrong for me to continue in his Cabinet.