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‘I am so sorry’: Liam Byrne apologises for his infamous ‘no money’ letter

The former Labour Treasury Minister admits he has ‘burnt with the shame’ of the letter everyday

Sophie McIntyre
Sunday 10 May 2015 13:07 BST
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British Prime Minister David Cameron holds up a letter from former Labour Treasury Minister Liam Byrne during the 2015 election campaign
British Prime Minister David Cameron holds up a letter from former Labour Treasury Minister Liam Byrne during the 2015 election campaign (WPA Pool /Getty Images)

The Labour minister who handed the Tories a powerful campaign weapon after admitting in a note "there's no money" has apologised for contributing to the party's huge election defeat.

The letter by Liam Byrne (a one-liner to his successor at the Treasury, David Laws, in which he wrote: 'I'm afraid there is no money') was brandished by David Cameron as evidence of Labour's financial irresponsibility during the election campaign.

Mr Byrne has now admitted that he "burnt with the shame of it" every day since detail of the letter surfaced.

Writing in the Observer, Mr Byrne said: "Party members ask me: what on earth were you thinking? But members of the public ask: how could you do something so crass? And so bloody offensive?

"I've asked myself that question every day for five years and, believe me, every day I have burnt with the shame of it, nowhere more than when standing on doorsteps with good comrades, listening to voters demanding to know what I thought I was playing at. It was always excruciating."

Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow Universities Minister (Getty Images)

In the one-line letter, Mr Byrne told the then-chief secretary to the Treasury: "I'm afraid there is no money", and signed off wishing him "good luck!"

Mr Byrne defended the letter by saying it was meant to be a "friendly" note to his successor.

Byrne also noted that Conservative Chancellor, Reginald Maudling, walked out of the Treasury in 1964 and told, Jim Callaghan: "Sorry to leave it in such a mess, old cock."

Mr Byrne, who held his Hodge Hill seat in Birmingham with a massive 23,000 vote majority, acknowledged his actions had allowed the Conservatives to 'bash' Labour's economic record.

Additional reporting PA

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