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  1. ITV Report

Lord Howe and the speech which ulimately destroyed Margaret Thatcher

Lord Howe and Margaret Thatcher in 1987. Credit: PA

Lord Howe of Aberavon - better known as Sir Geoffrey Howe - is known by many for his resignation speech in 1990 which was seen as the catalyst which ultimately destroyed Margaret Thatcher.

Lord Howe, who was abruptly dismissed as Foreign Secretary in 1989 and resigned from the unreal post of Deputy Prime Minister the following year, became increasingly exasperated at Mrs Thatcher's so-called "foghorn diplomacy" towards Europe.

In 18 minutes, the colleague who had served Mrs Thatcher in the Cabinet throughout her premiership delivered a clinically cold but savage denunciation of her attitude to Europe in front of shocked MPs.

Occasionally, as he spoke, Mrs Thatcher visibly flinched at the potency of his words.

At one point he said: "We commit a serious error if we think always in terms of 'surrendering' sovereignty and seek to stand pat for all time on a given deal - by proclaiming, as the Prime Minister did two weeks ago, that we have 'surrendered enough'.

"The European enterprise is not and should not be seen like that - as some kind of zero-sum game ..."

And he spoke of Mrs Thatcher's "nightmare image" of Europe, asking: "What kind of vision is that for our business people, who trade there each day, for our financiers, who seek to make London the money capital of Europe, or for all the young people of today?"

And in possibly the most savage passage, he said of Mrs Thatcher's attitude towards Europe and how her Chancellor and Bank of England officials could cope: "It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find, the moment the first balls are bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain."

And he warned that the Prime Minister's perceived attitude towards Europe was "running increasingly serious risks for the future of our nation".

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