Open Letter from Richard Harrington MP on his resignation as a Minister

Dear Resident of Watford,

It is with a heavy heart that I have written to the Prime Minister to offer her my resignation as Minister for Business and Industry, and I think it’s important that I set out why to residents and businesses in Watford.

This has not been an easy decision for me. Many of you will already be aware of my views as I have responded to thousands of emails, phone calls and letters on the subject. You will know that I have been, and continue to be, very supportive of the Prime Minister and the government’s policy of securing an agreement with the European Union in order to ensure an orderly exit for the United Kingdom. You will also know how much I have enjoyed representing the interests of the business community in government. It has been an honour and a privilege. But you will also know that, in my judgement, we need to ensure that a no deal Brexit is taken off the table now to protect jobs and the economy.

As the Member of Parliament for Watford, my duty and my priority is to my constituency. I have a responsibility to think and act in the local and national interest, and I am tasked with exercising my judgment in that respect.

At this critical moment in our country’s history, I cannot support a policy which is essentially playing roulette with the lives of people in Watford and the UK, who are employed by or otherwise depend on businesses for their livelihood. This is no longer just a negotiating card, but a scary reality. 

In my role as Business and Industry Minister, I speak to businesses every day who tell me that the failure to rule out a hard Brexit is resulting in cancelled investment decisions or businesses being moved abroad, something which I can already see happening in Watford. 

In the event of a no deal Brexit actually happening, I am very concerned that the economy may take 5 to 10 years to adjust to the new reality, during which time jobs may be lost and livelihoods ruined. I fear that the British people, and my constituents, would be part of a giant economic experiment that is championed by a small minority of the economics profession, a small minority of the Conservative Party, and a small minority of the country.

I want to be absolutely clear that I am determined to see Brexit through, and deliver on the results of the referendum, but this must not be at the expense of jobs and the economy. 

By resigning, I certainly feel I can better speak up for my constituents and country over how Brexit is currently being delivered.

My hope is that the Prime Minister will act in the national interest and consult Parliament this week to find a consensus which we can use as our negotiating position, moving forward. I believe this is the only way to ensure true democracy. 

The Conservative Party has a deep and honourable tradition of putting the national interest before itself. It has also had a long history of being the Party for business, entrepreneurs and supporting people to succeed and prosper. This is now the moment to ensure this Government continues this proud tradition and necessary endeavour. 

Thank you for reading this, I hope you can support my decision but in any event, I will continue with my work for all my constituents - in that respect nothing has, or will, change

With best wishes, 

Richard