The resignation letter and Major's reply

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Dear Prime Minister,

On 16 May I informed you that I wanted to leave the Government. I agreed to your request that I should stay until the July reshuffle. Unfortunately, knowledge about my decision has become public. To end further uncertainty I am resigning today.

I am leaving because I can no longer support the Government's policy towards the European Union. At the Foreign Office and more recently at the Treasury I have dealt with the European Union at first hand. I have supported a policy of attempting to reform it and building a relationship which protects British interests and prevents unwarranted interference in our affairs. This policy is not working. The drive to political union in Europe is relentless and has already gone beyond what most people regard as acceptable. In particular I am convinced that joining a single European currency would be disastrous, both politically and economically. I know we are not as yet committed to a single currency.

However, the Government's equivocation on this issue is confusing to the public and disappointing to most of our supporters. When something is clearly against the national interest, it is our job as the party of the national interest to make our position clear and resist it now.

I believe we must build a new relationship with the European Union.

We can have free trade in Europe without being shackled to an economic system characterised by unnecessary regulations, high costs and unemployment. We can have close political relations with our European neighbours without submitting to a federalist legal system.

It is because I see a new relationship with the European Union as essential that I have resigned from the Government and intend to speak freely from the back benches.

It has been a privilege to serve in your administration. I will, of course, continue to give you my support and do my utmost to secure the Government's re-election.

Yours ever, David

Mr Major's reply:

Dear David,

Thank you for your letter earlier today.

I regret your decision to resign, since as you know from our earlier discussions, I believe it is a mistake. We set out our position on Europe very clearly in the White Paper on our approach to the IGC. I am just as determined as you to take decisions that are in Britain's national interests, and not to saddle Britain with unnecessary regulation, high costs or unemployment.

Whether or not we decide to join a single currency, if it proceeds it will have a significant impact on the United Kingdom.

In these circumstances, I believe our national interest means we must retain our influence by being part of the negotiations and by arguing our case ... If, when the time comes, we decide it is not in Britain's interests to join, we will not do so. I am grateful for what you have done during your time in Government, particularly as Deputy Chief Whip, Minister of State in the Foreign Office, and Paymaster General.

Yours ever,