In full: Warsi's resignation letter and PM's response
- 5 August 2014
- From the section UK Politics
Baroness Warsi has quit as a foreign office minister over the government's stance on the conflict in Gaza. Here is her resignation letter.
Dear Prime Minister
For some weeks, in meeting and discussion, I have been open and honest about my views on the conflict in Gaza and our response to it.
My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain's national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.
Particularly as the Minister with responsibility for the United Nations, The International Criminal Court and Human Rights I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice. In many ways the absence of the experience and expertise of colleagues like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve has over the last few weeks become very apparent.
This decision has not been easy. It has been a privilege to serve for 3 years in your Shadow Cabinet and over 4 years in your Cabinet. Introducing you in Blackpool in 2005 as you made your bid for leadership I had the pleasure of being there at the start of the journey and it would have been rewarding to have been there til the end.
The last decade has given me the opportunity to work with some of the best in the Conservative Party and indeed in Government. William Hague was probably one of the finest Foreign Secretaries this country has seen and has been inspirational. He dismantled foreign policy making by sofa government and restored decision making and dignity to the Foreign Office. There is however great unease across the Foreign Office, amongst both Minister and senior officials, in the way recent decisions are being made.
Eric Pickles has supported me tirelessly in our work on combating hate crime. Challenging anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia and the pioneering work of celebration faith in the public sphere. This new found confidence in Government has allowed me to take the very public International lead on religious freedom, specifically on the ever growing crisis of the persecution of Christians. However, early evidence from the Home Office and others shows that the fallout of the current conflict and the potential for the crisis in Gaza and our response to it becoming a basis for radicalisation could have consequences for us for years to come.
From both Eric and William I learnt the art of reconciling passion and idealism with pragmatism and realism, but I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.
It is therefore with regret that I am writing to resign.
You will continue to have my personal support as leader of the Conservative party as you continue to ensure that our Party evolves to meet the challenges we face in Britain today and ensure that the Party is relevant and responsive to all communities that make up today's Britain.
And here is David Cameron's response:
Thank you for your letter today, in which you set out your reasons for resigning from the Government. I was sorry to receive this.
I realise that this must not have been an easy decision for you to make and very much regret that we were not able to speak about your decision beforehand.
I understand your strength of feeling on the current crisis in the Middle East - the situation in Gaza is intolerable. Our policy has always been consistently clear: we support a negotiated two state solution as the only way to resolve this conflict once and for all and to allow Israelis and Palestinians to live safely in peace.
Of course, we believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. But we have consistently made clear our grave concerns about the heavy toll of civilian casualties and have called on Israel to exercise restraint, and to find ways to bring this fighting to an end.
As part of that, we have consistently called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.
More widely, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know how grateful I am for the contribution you have made to the Conservative Front Bench, both in Opposition and in Government, over seven years' continuous service.
As the Minister for Faith and Communities, working with Eric Pickles in the Department for Communities and Local Government, you played an important role in the Government's integration agenda - building more united communities, tackling hate crime, harnessing the power of faith groups and championing Britain's common heritage.
At the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, your hard work in tackling persecution around the world, between faiths and within faiths, has had a lasting impact, as has your work to put the UK at the heart of the global Islamic Finance system.
You can also take pride in how you have built relationships with the countries and leaders of Central Asia, and particularly the role you have played supporting democracy and women's rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Perhaps most importantly, I would like you to know how much I have personally appreciated your support and friendship over the years, and your commitment to our Party and the Government. You were one of the early supporters of my leadership campaign in 2005, something for which I remain grateful.
We have been through a great deal together since then and I will never forget how proud we both were when, in May 2010, you joined the Cabinet as Chairman of the Conservative Party.
You can take pride in your achievements in Government and, especially, for being the first Muslim woman in any British Cabinet. I appreciate your assurance of support in the months and years to come and I hope that you will always feel able to raise any issue with me at any time.
This comes with my thanks, and best wishes for the future.