David Laws’ resignation letter to the Prime Minister – and David Cameron’s response

From the BBC:

Dear prime minister,

The last 24 hours have been very difficult and distressing for me, and I have been thinking carefully about what action I should take in the interests of the government, my constituents and – most important of all – those whom I love.

I am grateful for the strong support which I have received from my friends, family, and from you, the deputy prime minister and the chancellor.

This support has been incredibly important, but nonetheless, I have decided that it is right to tender my resignation as chief secretary to the Treasury.

I have done so for three reasons.

Firstly, I do not see how I can carry on my crucial work on the Budget and Spending Review while I have to deal with the private and public implications of recent revelations.

At this important time the chancellor needs, in my own view, a chief secretary who is not distracted by personal troubles.

I hardly need say how much I regret having to leave such vital work, which I feel all my life has prepared me for.

Secondly, while my recent problems were caused by my desire to keep my sexuality secret, the public is entitled to expect politicians to act with a sense of responsibility.

I cannot now escape the conclusion that what I have done was in some way wrong, even though I did not gain any financial benefit from keeping my relationship secret in this way.

Finally, and most importantly, I have an overriding responsibility to those I love most, and who I feel I have exposed to scrutiny in this way.

I have pursued a political career because of my sense of public duty, but I have too often put this before the interests of those I love most. It is time to redress the balance.

I want to apologise to my constituents for falling below the standards that they are entitled to expect from me.

The job of being a constituency MP is no less important to me than my Cabinet responsibilities.

I shall ensure that I co-operate fully with the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner in the review that I have requested.

I intend to consider carefully over the period ahead how I can best serve the interests of my Yeovil constituency, which I care so passionately about.

It has been a great honour to serve however briefly in your Government and I will remain its strong supporter.

Yours sincerely,

David Laws

In response, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote:

“Thank you for your letter tendering your resignation from the government, which I accept with sadness.

The last 24 hours must have been extraordinarily difficult and painful for you.

You are a good and honourable man. I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else.

Your decision to resign from the government demonstrates the importance you attach to your integrity.

In your short lime at the Treasury, you have made a real difference, setting the government on the right path to tackle the deficit which poses such a risk to our economy.

I hope that, in time, you will be able to serve again as I think it is absolutely clear that you have a huge amount to offer our country.

In the last few minutes, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has spoken on TV, of his admiration for David Laws’ intelligence and sense of public duty. Clegg hopes that there’ll be an opportunity to rejoin the Government, but that for now his privacy has been “cruelly shattered.”

He finished by saying,

I hope that David and all those people close to him will now be granted the privacy he has always craved.

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37 Comments

  • This is a tragedy. God damn the Telegraph!

  • Wim Wellinghoff 29th May '10 - 9:00pm

    How can Paddy Ashdown defend David Laws? It is the old lot again! Money grabbing till you drop, nothing has changed. Put a gate around this country and it would make a great zoo!

  • Martin Land 29th May '10 - 9:05pm

    So the Torygraph will now carve out the talented, one by one, until they get the right wing government they want.

  • I suppose vital political reforms such as recall elections will have to wait till public memory fades about this cheating, lying turd. If he supports recall elections he should resign from the Commons too shouldnt he?

  • David Laws put himself into a very difficult situation (financially) which the Telegraph found out about and it is hard to see how he could have made the necessary cuts. It is, however, both a personal tragedy for him and a tragedy for the country. He was shaping up to be an excellent Chief Secretary and this is a dreadful waste of talent. I hope that he may return to the cabinet at some stage.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 29th May '10 - 9:19pm

    Alex

    “We need to clean up politics. I will use your votes to reform Parliament, to deliver a fairer voting system, protect your freedoms and give you the right to sack corrupt MPs.” – Nick Clegg

    That’s ridiculous. Of course he didn’t mean Lib Dem MPs!

  • An extremely dignified statement from a real gentleman and decent public servant.

  • Most disappointing and whilst the issue had to be addressed the trangression less serious than many others in my views. The comments of some Labour MP’s beggars belief, but what do you expect. Clearly David has integrity and didn’t feel he could tough it out. I wish Danny Alexander well but feel that there were possibly stronger candidates for this position.

  • Keith Browning 29th May '10 - 9:32pm

    Ironic that SKY news headlines alongside ‘Laws resigns’.

    ‘Malawi pardon gay couple’……………

    but not in England where we are still a Third World country with our politics and voting system.

  • paul barker 29th May '10 - 9:34pm

    David Laws has asked for privacy, we should respect that.
    OK, probably too subtle, lets all shut up about him, like, err, now.

  • JAMES COLE

    Most disappointing and whilst the issue had to be addressed the trangression less serious than many others in my views. The comments of some Labour MP’s beggars belief, but what do you expect. Clearly David has integrity and didn’t feel he could tough it out. I wish Danny Alexander well but feel that there were possibly stronger candidates for this position.

    Of course there are candidates hundred times better than Danny Alexandar but in these tough economic times it is vital for the country to have a lib dem chief secretary who is fiercely loyal to Nick Clegg.

  • What about the distress this will have caused his partner? What about his privacy?

  • Andrew Suffield 29th May '10 - 9:45pm

    What about the distress this will have caused his partner? What about his privacy?

    That would be precisely why he resigned, yes.

  • Laws was clearly sailing quite close to the wind with the financial arrangements he’d set up. They were undoubtedly open to a negative reading, even if in the end he is judged by the Commissioner not to have broken the rules. You have to wonder quite what the party was doing – I would have thought expenses arrangements should have been probed closely for all MPs a while ago and as much as possible declared and disposed of.

    Many today have been questioning the plausibility of Laws’ statement that the reasons for establishing the arrangement was to keep his sexuality private. But it is impossible for many to appreciate the combination of family background and personal circumstances that would make coming out such a challenge. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the case. To be outed by the Telegraph must have been traumatic.

    This is a real blow for the government. You have to question the timing and the Telegraph’s motives. Presumably they think that by removing someone who is clearly a formidable intellect at the heart of economic policy they have a chance of derail the more progressive (Lib Dem) elements of the coalition agenda. That would be of a piece with their campaign against CGT reform etc. You have to wish Danny Alexander luck in resisting the pressure to water down reform that is coming from the more rabid elements of the Tory party.

  • Robert Hatch 29th May '10 - 9:58pm

    Given all the justifiable loss of faith in politicians because of their duplicity over expenses it beggars belief that someone charged with such an important role should imagine none of this would come out, That he wished to keep his sexuality private is an odd excuse for making such large expenses claims and makes one wonder just how morally upright he is.

  • Martin Land – speaking as a right-wing Tory I am very sad to see Laws go. I cannot defend his actions but I do wonder what the Barclay brothers are up to.

  • @Oranjepan
    “…at nearly half the level of more than half his collegues on all sides in the house.”

    And do you believe for one moment that Joe Public out there will give a monkey’s about that? More likely there response will be “they’re at it again”.

    It is a crying shame to lose him – although I’d guess that he won’t be gone that long. However, there does seem to have been some naivety amongst you LD folks which I can only put down to the fact that you have never had to suffer the same scrutiny as the other parties.

    In the last few days we’ve had Ming on TV trying to put forward justification for keeping Short money, Vince had the spotlight on some of his past views in the run up to the election and was found to be somewhat lacking on various topics, these probably weren’t to bad as they were on anorak programs so may not have registered with the pubic. A lot of the reaction on the boards seems to consist of anger at the papers for daring to report this, it’s almost as if people on the LD side didn’t quite realise that this sort of thing happens when you’re actually in charge – the press are no longer going to give you the benefit of their “they don’t sell papers” policy.

    Bearing in mind that the polls were predicting a hung parliament ages before the GE, you would have thought that some sort of thought had been given to this (at all levels) to try and avoid potential self inflicted injuries, but apparently not.

  • Richard; as Alex points out, I’m desperate to see politics cleaned up, but this just reduces the competence of the government. Deeply worrying.

  • So sorry that things have come to this. A Good man loses an important Job for what?

  • @Martin Land
    “So the Torygraph will now carve out the talented, one by one, until they get the right wing government they want.”

    In the words of Norman Baker – “So we have MPs criticising The Daily Telegraph and wanting to call in the police, as if shooting the messenger is the answer to this mess.”

    “Richard; as Alex points out, I’m desperate to see politics cleaned up, but this just reduces the competence of the government. Deeply worrying.”

    Well you can’t exactly expect the papers not to take an interest – you’re in Gov now, blaming the papers is a waste of time tbh. Make sure you get people checking their closets for other skeletons – if they find any then get them sorted before they turn up in the DT

  • David Walker 30th May '10 - 12:10am

    I don’t know the full fact of all this, but I do know that I’m really fed up with people who are in no doubt about the absolute rights and wrongs of a complex situation. Judging by the people who are saying Laws is an honourable person (Ashdown, Clegg,etc) I would give him the benefit of the doubt. It reminds me of the unfortunate and unfair end of Simon Hughes leadership bid.

    There seems to be a huge tendency for oversimplification of issues. If it can’t be explained in a 5 second soundbite then forget it – he must be guilty. Otherwise it’s just spin and propaganda. No room for consideration or nuance. I had these same thoughts when the expenses scandal was first breaking. The public reaction was understandable, but so one-dimensional, so black and white. Life is more complicated than that: Multi-dimensional shades of grey.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 30th May '10 - 12:31am

    “Judging by the people who are saying Laws is an honourable person (Ashdown, Clegg,etc) I would give him the benefit of the doubt.”

    It rather hinges on whether he was right to think that the prohibition on renting accommodation from a partner didn’t apply to him – despite the fact he had been living with James Lundie since 1999 and “involved in a relationship” with him since 2001.

    And then if he genuinely didn’t believe he had done anything wrong, one would have to ask why he stopped renting from Lundie in 2009 – though they are reportedly still living together – and why he promised to repay the £40,000 and referred himself to the Commissioner for standards after (but not before) the Telegraph reported the details.

  • Although David Laws is obviously a very capable guy and his skills will be missed in the government, there is one thing that those who keep calling him an honourable and honest man seem to be missing…HE LIED!
    In a recent interview David Laws was asked if he was in a relationship and he said he was not.
    A desire for privacy is one thing, telling a downright lie is another.
    How can someone who is a known liar (never mind the expenses bit) continue in such a high profile position?
    And why has this lie not been widely mentioned? Do we not want polititians of integrity? INTEGRITY INCLUDES NOT TELLING LIES.
    Of course he had to go…

  • Iain Dale has an interesting angle on why this matter came up now and what / who pointed the Telegraph at Laws. http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2010/05/mad-conspiracy-theory-or.html

    Be interesting to see who the Press attcak next – make no mistake they are annoyed about this coalition and the Lib Dems grabbing power in particular.

    Don’t underestimate our enemies and their ability to undermine and attack us. Don’t forget the two day tirade that followed Nick Clegg’s stellar performance in the election campaign…

  • Wim Wellinghoff, David Laws didn’t gain any money by this arrangement. On the contrary, he could have claimed more expenses, if he had registered his relationship. Read more details from Sara Bedfords blog, who explains it much better and perspicuously I ever could.

  • Julia Hayward 30th May '10 - 10:09pm

    When I stood for County Council – several leagues below a winnable parliamentary seat, of course – last year, I had the predictable pre-selection interview. And that means going into my background. Essentially, Is there anything that might possibly give cause for concern? Would it be a problem if my relationship, my recent career, or the antics of some friend or member of my family, ended up in the papers? Not “have I broken the rules”, not “have I bent the spirit of the rules whilst staying on the right side of the line” but “is there anything in my life that might not stand up under the most mean-spirited interpretation that could be thrown at me” – that being the likely interpretation that a determined opponent, a talented spin-doctor or a journalist intent on a headline might come up with. Like the Telegraph last year, for example – I don’t really think anyone could have missed it.

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs (and I personally go with the wrongs, why anyone concerned for their privacy with that much money wouldn’t just buy a flat outright and be done with it I don’t know – but then that’s probably why I’m on the train to London every day earning enough to pay the mortgage, and not a multi-millionaire) someone didn’t ask the right questions.

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