Lord Salisbury, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, served as leader of the House of Lords from 1994 to 1997. Before that he was MP for South Dorset from 1979 to 1987. He and his family have a deep connection with the Conservative party. In this letter sent last week to the Prime Minister he says her conduct of the Brexit negotiations has humiliated the British nation. Until things change, he says, with great sadness, that he will not make his ancestral family home – Hatfield House – available for Conservative party fundraising events. Lord Salisbury is chairman of Reaction.
Dear Prime Minister,
We have not met often, but when we have you have always been engaging and friendly and I have of late admired your astonishing powers of endurance. I particularly enjoyed sitting next to you when you kindly visited Hatfield to attend a dinner to raise funds for our Party. It therefore gives me no pleasure to say that I feel that I have to write this letter. My only consolation is that, amidst all your troubles, its contents will barely add to them.
Nevertheless, I think it would be courteous to write, especially after you somehow managed to find the time to congratulate me on being honoured with the Garter.
I have always believed in the nation state as the polity best equipped to govern a population, to provide a focus for its peoples’ loyalty and, if governed by the rule of law and powerful representative institutions, to adapt to the demands of a changing world. It is for that reason that I have never been a supporter of our membership of the Common Market or its successor, the EU. You only have to read the works of Jean Monnet to realise that from the beginning the European project aimed to create a United States of Europe based on a Napoleonic, top down administration wholly unsuited to our modern world which, if we use the technological revolution as our servant, will give more power to the individual.
It can therefore be no surprise that the EU has evolved into an ancien regime incapable of adapting to the demands of today’s world. Innovation and economic growth, leading universities and their high tech spin-offs, and the constitutional reform now necessary to satisfy the electorate that they are being properly represented, are being rapidly killed off by the disaster that is the Euro and a European administrative class too frightened for its own future to allow change.
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I was therefore delighted when we voted to leave. I am not naive enough to believe that leaving would not be painful. It clearly would be and I thought the Leave campaign was most unwise not to say so. Neither do I think that the mere act of leaving would lead us to the sunlit uplands. It would merely allow British politics and Parliament not to be infantilised by delegating so many decisions to the paternalists in Europe and force us to grow up and ask ourselves what sort of country we wanted to be and decide how to get there.
I am now not at all sure we will leave at all and, if we do, I am not sure we will do so on terms which enable us to negotiate as a sovereign power with either our European allies or other nations. We have reached this position as a result of the way you have conducted the negotiations. We are no longer a proud nation, but a postulant and humiliated one. This embarrassment has been brought about by a government provided by members of the Conservative Party.
When I first addressed my prospective constituents in 1977, I was asked what I thought our Party stood for. My answer was that I believed it stood for the Nation. I am sorry to find that today it no longer does.
I fear therefore that I can no longer send the modest financial support I have given up to now and, sadly, cannot, until things change offer Hatfield for future Party events. I hope you can appreciate, in view of the friendships I have forged in our Party over the last fifty years and the long association my family has had with it, this is one of the saddest letters I have ever had to write.
I am copying this letter to the Party Chairman and to Iain Martin, Editor of Reaction of which I am Chairman.