The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1997Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Resignation Statement – 2 May 1997

The text of Mr Major’s speech made outside Downing Street on 2nd May 1997.


Good morning. I said most of what I wish to say when I had the opportunity of speaking last evening. Perhaps, there are just one or two things it would be appropriate to add this morning.

It has been an immense privilege to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom over the past 6 1/2 years. It is a privilege which comes to very few people and it is a very precious privilege indeed.

I hope, as I leave Downing Street this morning, that I can say with some accuracy that the country is in far better shape than it was when I entered Downing Street.

The economy is booming, interest rates are low and inflation is low and unemployment is falling.

The growth pattern is well set, the health service is expanding, the education service is improving and the crime statistics are falling.

All of those I think are benevolent improvements in the interests of all of the people of this country. I believe the incoming government … to whom I repeat my warm congratulations upon their success … the incoming government will inherit the most benevolent set of economic statistics of any incoming government since before the First World War.

I hope very much in the interests of the whole British nation that they are successful in retaining this economy in the future.

If I may, I would like to clear up one area of speculation that I know has been abroad a little over the last few days.

I have been a Member of Parliament for 18 years. I have been a member of the Government for 14 years, of the Cabinet for ten years and Prime Minister since 1990. When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage and that is what I propose to do.

I shall, therefore, advise my parliamentary colleagues that it would be appropriate for them to consider the selection of a new leader of the Conservative Party to lead the party through Opposition through the years that lie immediately ahead.

This will necessarily take a little while to organise. Parliament must meet and the Members of Parliament must make their own consideration of the matter.

Naturally, I shall remain at the service of the party during what I hope will be a reasonably brief interregnum.

I should just like if I may to add one final thought. During the 6 1/2 years I have been in Downing Street there have been innumerable kindnesses from a huge number of people, many of whom I have never met, and never heard from except by way of their individual kindness.

I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to extend my thanks to them and the other millions of people in the British nation who have always given me their trust and the kindnesses to which I referred. I hope you will forgive me if I say no more this morning. I believe, as you know, I have an appointment with Her Majesty the Queen in a few moments to tender my resignation so that a new Government may then be formally appointed.

I propose to see Her Majesty in just a few moments. The second reason I shall say no more now is that after that I hope that Norma and I will be able, with the children, to get to The Oval in time for lunch and for some cricket this afternoon. Thank you all very much indeed.