The real story of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation is full of tears, hurt, anger and sorrow, according to her private secretary.
In her new book, Caroline Slocock claims to reveal what happened behind the scenes as the Iron Lady’s notorious leadership came to an end.
She says the late Conservative leader broke down in tears behind closed doors and says she struggled to articulate her final words to colleagues.
Describing the scene as she read a resignation statement out in a morning cabinet meeting the day she resigned, Caroline says it was torture to hear.
Her then private secretary said she suspected everyone in the room at the time wished they weren’t there.
“Her voice – always a pressure point for her in moments of stress, but normally resolute when things get tough – breaks down as she starts to sob,” an extract from Caroline’s book published in The Times reveals.
The extract sites part of Mrs Thatcher’s speech which says: “Having consulted widely among my colleagues, I have concluded that the unity of the party and the prospects of victory in a general election would be better served if I stood down to enable cabinet colleagues to enter the ballot for the leadership.”
The words were reportedly articulated with great difficulty as others in the room also cried. Caroline said she too sobbed as she left the room.
Caroline describes Mrs Thatcher, Prime Minister in the UK from 1979 to 1990 facing cameramen outside no.10, and appearing composed on TV.
“But as soon as she is back inside and the door is closed, she breaks down and starts sobbing in front of everyone there,” she writes.
Thatcher was comforted and taken by her personal assistant Amanda Ponsonby up to the flat, it is claimed.
Caroline says that surprisingly, after that emotionally difficult morning, Thatcher then went onto PMQs that afternoon and did ‘brilliantly’.
But she reportedly refused to read a piece of text written by the then defence secretary, admitting she’d break down if she did.