Earlier today, Andrew Lansley was just very cross. He wasn’t Leader of the House anymore, and he wasn’t the UK’s nomination for European Commissioner. But in a few hours, the former Health Secretary has gone from just being grumpy to being an international man of mystery. Read his exchange of letters with David Cameron on his departure from the government – and the end of his parliamentary career. I have emphasised a particular point of interest in each.
FROM ANDREW LANSLEY:
Dear Prime Minister,
For nearly nine years, I have been a member of your Shadow Cabinet and Cabinet. This has been a great privilege and I am grateful to you for this.
I am proud of what we achieved: transforming the public’s view of the Conservative Party’s commitment to the NHS; becoming the party most trusted with the NHS by the Service’s 60th Anniversary; shaping and implementing the comprehensive reforms which bring clinical leadership and quality and outcomes to the fore in shaping NHS services; bringing local government leadership and national co-ordination to the promotion of public health; achieving dramatic reductions in the costs of bureaucracy, increased clinical staffing and the lowest ever waiting times. The NHS is my passion as you know, and I can see that we have taken, and are taking, the difficult decisions which will safeguard it for the future.
As you know, as Leader of the House, I have most recently led the successful delivery of the Government’s legislative programme; and piloted continuing reform in a House that is increasingly relevant to the public.
We have worked together for twenty-five years. I have given you unswerving support and I will continue to do so.
Earlier this year, I told you that I did not intend to stand again at the next election. You supported my ambition to continue my life of public service in challenging and important roles. I am grateful to you now for expressing your support for me to take such a role in international public service in the months ahead.
FROM THE PRIME MINISTER:
Thank you very much for your letter, informing me of your decision to resign as Leader of the House of Commons and your intention to stand down from Parliament at next year’s election.
I know that this will not have been an easy decision for you to make, and one you will have given a huge amount of thought to, but I completely understand your position and I am grateful to you for giving me prior notice through your kind and generous letter.
I want to recognise the incredible service you have given our Party over the years – whether as an adviser throughout the Eighties and Nineties; from 1997 in Opposition and, most recently, over the past four years in Government. But most importantly, I would like to thank you for your friendship and support. We go back a long way and I will never forget our days at Conservative Central Office – it seems like such a long time ago now!
Having represented South Cambridgeshire for approaching two decades and served the best part of fifteen years on the Conservative Front Bench, you have given a huge amount to our Party, the Government and our country.
As Secretary of State for Health you passed power and resources into the hands of the doctors and nurses who best know the needs and wants of patients. Across government we made transparency and openness an organising principle, changing forever the relationship between patients and the health and care system that serves them.
We are seeing the fruits of this important work in the NHS in England and our continued focus as a government on clinical quality, safety and patient experience builds on your seminal reforms. With the Commonwealth Fund rating the NHS as the best in the world, I pay tribute to you and thank you for your reforming work.
I would also like to recognise the work you have carried out more recently as Leader of the House of Commons. A master of detail, you have managed our legislative programme through Parliament with great tenacity and skill. Well respected on all sides of the political divide, you have demonstrated your command of the brief and wit and humour every week at Business Questions.
Finally, I would like you to know how much I have appreciated your friendship, loyalty and support over the years. You have much more to give in terms of public service, and I look forward to being able to support you in doing so in the months and years ahead. However, I know – and I am reassured – that politics will never leave your blood completely, and that our Party will always be able to draw on your considerable experience, undiminished loyalty, and steadfast support.
This comes with my heartfelt thanks, and very best wishes.
Initially, it seemed Lansley and Cameron had written these letters before the Prime Minister had changed his mind and appointed Lord Hill as Commissioner. But Number 10 sources insist that this is not the case. However, there are no details about what on earth both men are banging on about. What is the sacked minister off to do? Is this ‘role in international public service’ Lansley becoming a spy? Is he off to join the International Rescue (it worked for David Miliband when he’d exhausted his political career options)? Does Number 10 even know what he’s off to do?
There are various UN roles that must be British, or a few plum diplomatic jobs that might take Lansley’s fancy. Either way, the cross sacked minister has, by making this international role of mystery public, ensured that he’s not leaving this reshuffle entirely empty-handed.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.