Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Letter to Nicholas Ridley MP (resignation)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive (THCR 1/14/21 f3)
Editorial comments:

Nicholas Ridley’s letter precedes MT’s.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 649
Themes: Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), European Union (general), Economic, monetary & political union, Executive (appointments), Conservatism, British relations with the Federal Republic of Germany

Dear Margaret,

In view of the controversy aroused by the publication of an article in The Spectator this week, I think that now is the time for me to leave your Government, since I have already made clear to you that I had decided not to contest the next election.

I would rather have expressed my views about the future of Europe directly, and at a time of my own choosing. In particular I deeply resent the journal's assertion that I associate present day Germany with the aggression of the past. I do not hold that view.

Nevertheless I believe that the proposal of the European Commission for economic and monetary union in the Community would be a disaster, both for Great Britain, and for the wider Europe in which I passionately believe. It would be heartless after fifty years of subjugation, for the Community to exclude the nations of Eastern Europe from participating in the European Single Market. The opportunities must be open for the nations of the European free trade area to join. All the nations of Europe should be free to maintain their own political, economic, and national identities, while enjoying the benefits of a free and fair trade.

Great benefit will come to all from the completion of the Single Market free from internal barriers, subsidies, and restrictions, trading openly with the rest of the world. Nothing but harm will come from trying to force them into the straight-jacket of a single currency, with economic policy decided by people who are not accountable to the electors and taxpayers. It would result in economic domination by the country with the strongest currency in the Community. [end p1]

I believe that the views which I have expressed in this letter are very much in line with those of the Government. But I recognize the difficulties which my failure to use more measured words have caused and, in the circumstances, I think it would be best if I now left the Government.

It has been a privilege and honour for me to have served you for the last eleven years. You have achieved so much. I wish to place on record my admiration for the transformation in the fortunes and self-confidence of our country which you have wrought. I will continue to support you in your essential further work on the nation's behalf over many years ahead.

Yours ever,

Nicholas [end p2]

My dear Nicholas RidleyNick,

I understand your decision to tender your resignation from the Government and it is entirely characteristic of you to follow the course which you have decided is the most honourable. As you say, you had already told me recently, very much to my regret, that you would not stand again at the next election.

That does not diminish the great gap which your departure will leave. Yours has consistently been one of the most creative and original contributions to the Government's work over the years since 1979 and indeed before. You have been a foremost champion of sound economic and monetary policies and of our drive to restore enterprise and initiative. You have never shirked difficult decisions, either at Transport, at the Environment or at Trade and Industry. You have been at the forefront of our moves to privatise and to reduce the role of government in business and industry. And you have brought to Cabinet a clarity of mind and thought and an intellectual vigour, which have been invaluable in illuminating even the most complex problems and searching out a constructive way ahead. Personally I shall greatly miss your loyal support for the policies we both believe in so deeply.

We are all immensely grateful to Judy RidleyJudy for all she has done and the tremendous help which she has always been to you. [end p3]

Your continued support for the Government in the House, so generously offered, will be a great encouragement. In thanking you wholeheartedly for the outstanding work you have done, I send my warmest personal good wishes to you and to Judy.

Yours ever,