Geoffrey Howe dead: Watch the former Chancellor’s historic resignation speech that sparked the downfall of Thatcher

The Conservative MP resigned from the front bench in 1990

Olivia Blair
Saturday 10 October 2015 14:25
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Geoffrey Howe's resignation speech, 1990

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Howe has died aged 88.

Although he served senior ministerial roles in the Conservative governments of both Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher, arguably it is his resignation speech for which he will be most remembered.

The speech, which he delivered to a packed House of Commons in 1990, is widely regarded as a catalyst for Margaret Thatcher’s ultimate downfall when she lost the majority support of her Cabinet in November that year.

The main focus of the resignation speech was the increasing divergence of opinion over Europe between Lord Howe, then Sir Geoffrey, and Lady Thatcher.

The 18-minute speech shows the Prime Minister looking increasingly uncomfortable as she sat next to the man who would eventually replace her, Sir John Major.

Saying Mrs Thatcher conjured up a “nightmare image” of Europe, he told the House he feared the “very real tragedy” of the Prime Minister’s “attitude towards Europe running increasingly serious risks for the future of our nation.”

Issuing a warning to his former Cabinet colleagues, Sir Geoffrey ended by saying: “I’ve done what I believe to be right for my party and my country. The time has come for others to consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties which I have, myself, wrestled for perhaps too long.”

After resigning, Sir Geoffrey was made a life peer and continued to argue in favour of Europe, speaking out against what he believed to be anti-European policies of leader, William Hague in the late 1990s.

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