Letter from Norman Baker to Nick Clegg
I am writing to confirm my request, which I first raised with you in August, to take a break from ministerial office when a convenient moment arises. I understand this is likely to be next week.
You will know that I have spent four and a half years in ministerial office, three and a half at the Department for Transport and the last year at the Home Office. I have enjoyed this time very much, and while I feel I have been able to discharge my duties effectively while also giving proper attention to my constituency, this combination has been very demanding and has squeezed the time available for my family and my outside interests, including my music.
You will recognise that it has been particularly challenging being the only Lib Dem in the Home Office, which I see a newspaper the other day likened to being the only hippy at an Iron Maiden concert. Despite these challenges, I am pleased with what I have been able to achieve, not least to have been the first minister with responsibility for drugs to have put prejudice aside and published an evidence-based approach to this important issue, despite repeated Conservative efforts to block release.
I am also pleased, amongst other things, to have been able to create a cross-departmental commitment to tackling FGM, to have nursed into law a new more effective approach to anti-social behaviour, and to have launched a ground-breaking government document that promotes alternatives to animal experiments.
However, in stark contrast to the Department for Transport, I regret that in the Home Office, the goodwill to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy has been in somewhat short supply.
I have concluded, therefore, that for the time being at least, my time is better spent out of ministerial office.
You will of course continue to have my full support in the run-up to, and beyond, the next election which I anticipate is likely to produce another hung parliament. You have been, and are, an outstanding leader of the Lib Dems and I have been proud to have served in your team.
Letter from Nick Clegg to Norman Baker
Thank you for the brilliant job you have done as a Minister over the past four and a half years, first at the Department of Transport and more recently at the Home Office.
In both posts you have proved yourself as one of the most effective ministers in government: always determined to deliver a more liberal agenda for Britain, by consensus where possible but by confronting vested interests whenever necessary.
However complex the issues have been, or challenging the coalition relations have proved to be, you have handled the political relationships within Government with great skill, always focusing on how to achieve liberal reform wherever you can.
I fully understand the reasons you want to take a break after four and a half years in demanding Ministerial posts – but I very much hope that if the Liberal Democrats are in government after the next election, you will once again make yourself available for Ministerial office.
On a personal level, it has been a real privilege to work alongside you over the past four and a half years.
With very best wishes,
A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minster said:
“Norman Baker has decided that now is the right time to step down from Government as a Minister after four and a half years to concentrate on his constituency, his family and his great passion for music.
“The Deputy Prime Minister is extremely grateful for the skill and determination shown by Norman Baker in pursuing liberal reforms during his time as a Minister in the Department for Transport and Home Office.”