Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Written Statement announcing decision to resign as Prime Minister

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive
Editorial comments: The statement is marked "cleared 0735".
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 405
Themes: Leadership, Conservative (leadership elections)

The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher FRS MP has informed Elizabeth IIThe Queen that she does not intend to contest the second ballot of the election for leadership of the Conservative Party and intends to resign as Prime Minister as soon as a new leader of the Conservative Party has been elected. The Prime Minister will seek an Audience of Elizabeth IIThe Queen later this morning to convey her decision formally.

The Prime Minister has issued the following statement:

“Having consulted widely among colleagues, I have concluded that the unity of the Party and the prospects of victory in a General Election would be better served if I stood down to enable Cabinet colleagues to enter the ballot for the leadership. I should like to thank all those in Cabinet and outside who have given me such dedicated support” .

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After the Prime Minister had informed Cabinet of her intention to resign the Lord MackayLord Chancellor made the following statement which has been recorded in the Cabinet Minutes:

“May I express on behalf of the whole Cabinet what we will all be feeling, namely our profound sadness at this moment.

“You have served as Leader of the Conservative Party for nearly sixteen years and as Prime Minister for the past eleven years, the longest serving Prime Minister this century. You led the Government through a time of severe economic difficulty in the early years of the decade to a period of sustained economic growth unparalleled since the Second World War. Your fortitude sustained the effort to recover the Falkland Islands and showed a resolve which many thought had been lost to Britain. You have changed attitudes throughout industry and commerce so that enterprise and initiatives flourish and are respected again. Your strength and clearsightedness in international affairs have made you a figure of huge international stature and have contributed in no small way to the ending of the cold war and it was therefore most fitting that you signed on behalf of the United Kingdom the momentous agreements concluded in Paris at the beginning of this week.

“Your place in our country's history is already assured. It has been for us your colleagues a true privilege to have served under you. We thank you most warmly for your leadership and we extend to both you and your husband, who has supported you so marvellously, all our best wishes for the future.