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Saturday, 18 December, 1999, 21:38 GMT
Hague's letter in full

William Hague "You have left the party for your own careerist reasons"

The full text of Conservative Party leader William Hague's response to Witney MP Shaun Woodward's letter of resignation.

"Thank you for your letter, which I must say does not come as a total surprise.

"It is clear from the way you conducted yourself before and after your removal from the frontbench on 2 December that you were looking for a pretext to be sacked or to resign.

"What other explanation can there be for your decision to go back on supporting the Party's policy on Section 28 with the appropriate amendments on bullying to which you had previously agreed?

It is clear that you were looking for a pretext to be sacked or to resign
William Hague
"What is surprising is that you cite the Conservative Party platform as the reason for your departure. It is a platform developed in line with Conservative principles which you were prepared to endorse only six months ago when you agreed to serve on my frontbench.

"You accepted that job after our policy on the single currency had been overwhelmingly endorsed by a ballot of the Party membership and by the people of this country in the European elections.

"All that has happened since then is that we have reiterated our view, first set out in May, that the future success of the European Union lies in meeting the challenge of enlargement by becoming more flexible rather than more centralised - a natural Conservative view.

"On taxation, you develop a spurious intellectual rationale to say that our policies are somehow out of step with Conservative tradition. I do not know of a time when the Conservative Party did not stand for bringing down and keeping down the share of national income taken by tax while preserving our public services.

You developed a spurious intellectual rationale to say that our policies are out of step with Conservative tradition
William Hague
"If this is such a bad thing to want to do, why does your new leader, Mr Blair, claim, albeit falsely, to be doing it?

"Of course I do not believe him and apparently nor did you as recently as April 1998.

"Then you said of Labour's Finance Bill, 'It is misleading and damaging, and very destructive of Britain's long-term interests. It piles tax on tax, it savages the incentive to save, it distorts the workings of the marketplace and it gives even more power to the Treasury. This is a bad Bill and a deceptive one, whose detail betrays the fact that the government are not ambitious for Britain, but ambitious for power and ambitious to get their hands on the people's money'.

"This is an accurate description of the government you now support.

If you were a man of honour you would resign your seat now
William Hague
"The fact remains that our Common Sense Revolution - including our Guarantees on Tax and on Sterling - has been widely welcomed by all shades of opinion within the Conservative Party precisely because it is in tune with the instincts of the people of Britain and is therefore in the best traditions of One Nation Conservatism.

"If you were a man of honour, who valued his constituents as much as you say you do, you would resign your seat now, fight a by-election and give them the opportunity to judge who it is that represents their views and their instincts more accurately.

"The Conservative Party has not left you. You have left a Party whose members have given you their loyal support. You have done so for reasons not of integrity or of principle, but for your own careerist reasons.

"That is an attitude of which I am determined to rid our Party, a process to which you have now at least contributed."

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18 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Woodward's letter in full

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