READ IN FULL: Andrea Leadsom's resignation letter and Theresa May's reply
Read the full exchange of letters between Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May as the Commons Leader resigned from the Cabinet over Brexit.
ANDREA LEADSOM'S RESIGNATION LETTER
Dear Prime Minister
I am proud to have served in your Government since 2016, first as your Environment Secretary and for the last two years as Leader of the House of Commons, and pay tribute to the excellent work of my civil servants in both roles.
More recently, setting up the new complaints procedure, putting in train the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, introducing Proxy Voting for MPs, proposing a new strategy to support early years, and ensuring the timely delivery of our legislative programme, my role as Leader of the Commons has been highly rewarding, and I am grateful to have had these opportunities.
I stayed in Cabinet to shape and fight for Brexit.
There have been some uncomfortable compromises along the way, but you have had my determined support and loyalty in your efforts to deliver Brexit as our shared goal.
I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result, for the following reasons:
1. I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed;
2. I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the Government willingly facilitating such a concession. It would also risk undermining our Union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened;
3. There has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brexit-related legislative proposals have not been properly scrutinised or approved by Cabinet members;
4. The tolerance to those in Cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the Government's position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.
I know there are important elections tomorrow, and many Conservatives have worked hard to support our excellent candidates.
I considered carefully the timing of this decision, but I cannot fulfil my duty as Leader of the House tomorrow, to announce a Bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose.
I fully respect the integrity, resolution and determination that you have shown during your time as Prime Minister. No one has wanted you to succeed more than
I have, but I do now urge you to make the right decisions in the interests of the country, this Government and our Party.
It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the Government.
THERESA MAY'S REPLY
Thank you for your letter this evening resigning as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons. I was sorry to receive it.
I am grateful to you for your work since I became Prime Minister — first as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and then as Leader of the House of Commons. You rightly highlight the important reforms you have championed in this latter role — not only beginning the process of restoring the fabric of the Palace of Westminster but also making sure that Parliament meets the high standards rightly expected of it, whether through the introduction of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme to stamp out bullying and harassment, or the pilot proxy voting scheme for MPs on parental leave.
I am also grateful for the support you have given over the last three years as the Government works to honour the result of the referendum and deliver our departure from the European Union. I am afraid I must disagree with the assessment you now give about our approach.
I do not agree with you that the deal which we have negotiated with the European Union means that the United Kingdom will not become a sovereign country. If the deal is passed, the UK will leave the European Union. We will leave its Common Agricultural Policy and its Common Fisheries Policy. We will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and make our own laws in Westminster and our devolved parliaments. We will stop sending vast annual sums of taxpayers' money to the EU, and spend it on our priorities instead — such as our National Health Service and our children's schools.
I agree with you that a second referendum would be divisive. The Government is not proposing one. Indeed, I made clear again in the House today that I am against another referendum. I believe that we should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British people to vote in a second one. And I asked MPs what it would say about our democracy if the biggest vote in our history were to be rerun because the House of Commons did not like the outcome.
Having served as Leader of the House, however, you will know very well that any Bill to deliver our withdrawal from the European Union is amendable and likely to attract an amendment seeking to try and bring about a second referendum. That is why at Cabinet yesterday we agreed to bring the Bill forward and allow those MPs who want another referendum to put their case and test the opinion of the House on this matter again. I continue to believe that the arguments against a second referendum are strong and compelling, and will continue to oppose one.
I do not recognise what you say about decision-making in Government. Indeed, through your own work chairing the Parliamentary Business and Legislation committee of Cabinet, you have been an important part of ensuring that Brexit-related legislative proposals are properly scrutinised, and the whole Cabinet have listened to the assessments you have given at Cabinet meetings.
I have valued the frank and productive discussions we have had over the last three years. As you say, there are important elections tomorrow, and many Conservatives are working in a challenging environment to support our excellent candidates. I am sorry to lose someone of your passion, drive and sincerity from HM Government in this way.