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1995 - Mr Major’s Resignation Speech

Below is Mr Major's statement in the garden at 10 Downing Street announcing his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party. He stood, and won, the subsequent leadership election.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

Let me just make a brief statement to you. I've been deeply involved in politics since I was sixteen. I see public service as a duty and if you can serve, I believe you have an obligation to do so.

I've now been Prime Minister for nearly five years. In that time we've achieved a great deal, but for the last three years I've been opposed by a small minority in our party. During those three years there have been repeated threats of a leadership election. In each year, they have turned out to be phoney threats. Now the same thing again is happening in 1995.

I believe this is in no one's interest that this continues right though until November. It undermines the Government and it damages the Conservative Party. I am not prepared to see this party I care for laid out on the rack like this any longer.

To remove this uncertainty I have this afternoon tendered my resignation as leader of the Conservative Party to Sir Marcus Fox, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, and requested him to set the machinery in motion for an election of a successor.

I have confirmed to Sir Marcus that I shall be a candidate in that election. If I win, I shall continue as Prime Minister and lead the party into and through the next election.

Should I be defeated, which I do not expect, I shall resign as Prime Minister and offer my successor my full support.

The Conservative Party must makes its choice. Every leader is leader only with the support of his party. That is true of me as well.

That is why I am no longer prepared to tolerate the present situation. In short, it is time to put up or shut up. I have nothing more to say this afternoon. Thank you very much.