Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Letter to Lord Whitelaw (resignation)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive
Editorial comments: Lord Whitelaw’s letter of resignation precedes MT’s.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 556
Themes: Executive, Executive (appointments)

My dear Margaret

My doctors have advised me that, although I have made a good recovery, it would be unwise at my age to undergo in future the stress inseparable from senior ministerial office. With the greatest regret, therefore, I feel I am bound to ask you to accept my resignation.

Since 1979, I have had the privilege of serving under your outstanding leadership as Home Secretary and as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords, appointments which I have greatly appreciated.

I am indeed grateful for the trust which you have placed in me and for the invariable kindness and consideration which you have always shown me throughout this time.

During the years in which I have served under your leadership, you have led our Conservative Party to three General Election victories running and you have become the Prime Minister with the longest consecutive period in office this century—a truly remarkable record. But your outstanding achievement with which I feel proud to have been associated has been the transformation of Britain's position both at home and abroad.

In the future I shall of course give to you and the Government my wholehearted support in the House of Lords under John Belstead 's leadership which I greatly welcome. I shall also continue to work for our Conservative Party in the country to the best of my ability.

With my very best wishes to you and the Government for every possible success in the future.

Yours ever

Willie [end p1]

My dear William WhitelawWillie,

Thank you for your letter of 10 January.

It was with a great sense of loss that I learned of your decision to resign your office as Lord President and Leader of the House of Lords. I fully realise that medical advice leaves you no choice, and because your well-being comes first, sadly I have no choice but to accept your resignation.

You have been at the centre of our country's political life for more than twenty years. To every office that you have held—Lord President, Home Secretary, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and for Employment—you have brought supreme ability and selfless dedication. Your service to our Country, to Government and to the Party has been immense. I personally shall be eternally in your debt for your great loyalty to me as leader of the Party from 1975 and as Prime Minister from 1979.

For nearly nine years in Government I have relied on your wisdom and steadfastness. You have helped to shape the measures which, in your own words, have successfully transformed Britain's position at home and abroad. For the past four and a half years your superb leadership of their Lordships' House has taken through the Bills underlying the Government's programme of reform. [end p2]

In Cabinet we shall all miss not only your wise counsel, but also your warmth, humour and good fellowship.

I am so pleased that you are able to continue as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party so that we can still have the benefit of your help and advice. The position of Deputy Prime Minister was unique to you for your unique qualities, and comes to an end with your service.

Denis ThatcherDenis joins me in sending best wishes to you and Celia WhitelawCelia and we hope to see you soon when you are fully recovered.

Yours ever