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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 12:22 GMT
John Bercow's resignation letter

This is the letter of resignation Tory MP John Bercow sent to party leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Dear Iain

As you know from our recent discussions, I have been very unhappy with the decision to instruct colleagues to vote against amendments to the Adoption and Children Bill which would allow unmarried couples to adopt.

At present, there are many children for whom it is proving difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find adoptive parents.

The overwhelming majority of children's charities and the Association of Directors of Social Services agree that Parliament should act to extend the pool of potential adopters.

This would allow more of our most damaged children to have the chance of a secure and loving home with two parents who share responsibility for them.

I agree with the case for reform and it is a great pity that Conservative MPs are not to be given a free vote.

When the matter last came before the House in May, the chief whip indicated that colleagues who felt unable to vote with the party could arrange to be absent.

I reluctantly stayed away then, but I really do not wish to do so again.

Instead, I shall speak in the debate - if I am called - and shall vote in favour of change.

For this reason, and this reason alone, I am stepping down from the shadow cabinet.

I have long admired your political courage and integrity. In particular, your battle against the Maastricht Treaty was inspirational.

It was therefore a pleasure to support you in the later stage of the leadership election last year.

Since then, you have enabled me to contribute to the work of the shadow cabinet, first as shadow treasury chief secretary and latterly as shadow work and pensions minister.

I shall always be grateful to you for those opportunities.

Modernise

There may be some who seek to read more into my resignation than simply my views on the Adoption and Children Bill and they may try to set us apart.

They would be wrong.

You have set out to modernise the Conservative Party and to focus on how to improve our failing public services.

You can be assured of my vocal support in the period ahead in pursuing this vital agenda.

Best wishes to you and Betsy.

Yours ever

John

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Vicki Young
"Senior MPs and officials were putting a brave face on this"
Conservative Party chairman Theresa May
"I'm sorry John feels it is necessary to step down"
See also:

03 Nov 02 | Politics
04 Nov 02 | Politics
16 Oct 02 | UK
04 Oct 02 | Politics

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