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1990: Howe resigns over Europe policy

VIDEO : Sir Geoffrey Howe rules out a challenge for leadership

The UK's deputy Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe, has resigned.

He informed the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of his decision at around 1800 on Thursday.

Sir Geoffrey said the reasons for his resignation were the prime minister's policies towards Europe and her opposition to a single European currency.

He is the fourth member of the cabinet to leave after disputes over Europe.

The prime minister is said to have had no prior warning that Sir Geoffrey had decided to go.

A statement from the prime minister's office said Mrs Thatcher and Sir Geoffrey had talked for 30 minutes before she accepted his resignation "more in sorrow than in anger".


"There is no question of his standing against Mrs Thatcher in a leadership election"

David Harris, Howe aide

Sir Geoffrey, 63, was the last remaining member of Mrs Thatcher's original 1979 cabinet.

He served as both chancellor and foreign secretary.

A short statement from Sir Geoffrey was read to journalists by his parliamentary private secretary, David Harris.

There were few details but Mr Harris told reporters Sir Geoffrey had no intention of challenging for the party leadership.

"I have absolute authority from Sir Geoffrey to say that there is no question of his standing against Mrs Thatcher in a leadership election," Mr Harris said.

Labour leader Neil Kinnock said Mrs Thatcher had got what she deserved and had been bitten by the man she had treated as a "doormat".

In Context
The Labour MP Dennis Healey once famously said being attacked by Geoffrey Howe was "like being savaged by a dead sheep".

But the former deputy PM's attack on Mrs Thatcher in a dramatic resignation speech on 13 November ultimately led to her downfall.

The speech spurred Mrs Thatcher's long-time adversary, Michael Heseltine, to stand against her in a leadership contest.

When she failed to win the contest outright in the first round, Mrs Thatcher resigned.

Geoffrey Howe retired from the Commons in 1992 and was given a life peerage taking the title Baron Howe of Aberavon.


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