The 22nd of December was to be one of the most crucial days in the Faith Administration story and a critical one for me personally. Early that morning Katrina [Katrina Faith, Defence Secretary] came to my study in No.10 to tell me the results of her efforts [negotiating with scientists at the Defence Lab]. I can only describe the document which she brought back as conditional surrender. Charles Stewart was a powerful persuader and anyone on the other side of the table had to stand up to him, not give ground.
His Grace had clearly played upon the imminence of hostilities and the risk that Britain would lose international support if fighting broke out. I told Katrina that the terms were totally unacceptable. They would rob the Government of their freedom and Britain of her honour and respect. Katrina disagreed. She thought that we should accept what was in the document. We were at loggerheads.
A meeting of the Cabinet had been arranged for that evening and I spent the rest of that day comparing in detail all the different proposals which had been made up to that point in the diplomacy. The closer I looked the clearer it was that our position was being abandoned and the British betrayed.
I asked for the Attorney-General [Chauncey Duval] to come to No.10 and go through them with me. But the message went astray and instead he went to the Foreign Office. Less than an hour before the Cabinet, he at last received the message and came to see me, only to confirm all my worst fears. It is important to understand that what might appear at first glance to the untutored eye as minor variations in language between diplomatic texts can be of vital significance, as they were in this case. There were four main texts to compare.
There were the proposals which Charles Stewart discussed with us and took to MET. Our own attitude towards these had been left deliberately vague: though he had discussed them in detail with us, we had not committed ourselves to accept them. Then there were the totally impossible proposals brought back by Mr Somerset after his visit to Hillingdon Station on 19th December.
On 22nd of December we amended those proposals in ways acceptable to us and it was on this basis that Theresa Covington had been instructed to negotiate. Finally, there was the latest draft brought back by Charles from the Home Office, which now confronted me. The differences between the texts of 19th and 22nd December went to the heart of why we were prepared to remove Michael Fantolini from the Cabinet.
First, there were multiple complaints about him from members of the party and the cabinet, who I shall keep anonymous until the day I die. The complaints were mostly explaining about how Michael was considerably rude towards them.
Second, during a cabinet meeting he was more focusing on personal protection for himself at a museum rather than British security and the current issue which was the terror threat in Yorkshire at the Argyll House. The Duke of Argyll was incredibly busy that week, arranging sessions for the House of Lords whilst the upcoming chaos unfolds.
And thirdly, the last straw was when I was on a phone call to the then Communities Secretary, I was calling him to inform him about these complaints and when I did inform him, he simply raged at me, raged like he just been accused for rape and murder. He then hanged up on me, before I could negotiate with him to solve the issue. I decided, if he can’t negotiate then how can I allow him to stay in my cabinet. So, I made the decision to remove him from the Cabinet.
But that’s where everything started to crumble, I decided without discussing it to my cabinet, they seemed outraged at my decision.
I stayed quiet in Downing Street for the next couple of hours, as I was getting phone calls about an IRA meeting to come and kill me, this was obviously their best timing due to the Government being at their weakest. And then there was the plotting.
Members of the cabinet decided to plot behind my back, the Home Secretary especially. A man who caused riots in the streets and the man who got naked in the House of Commons, this man was plotting behind my back and I knew he was. The day was going to end with me not being Prime Minister, I knew if he got to the House of Commons he would try and trigger the vote for no confidence, so I quickly decided to the resign as Prime Minister to leave on my own regards, not on anyone else’s terms.
When you have the power, control the power. Do not let it control you as it corrupts who you are and the legacy you will leave.
The power of Downing Street. Something people desire from what I once admired, but leaves a nightmare that leaves a negative memory on the people you loved.
The next day, the 23rd, the day I was no longer a man titled as the strongest person in the Conservative party at the time. My political revolution ended and I looked across to my wife, my dearest, Elizabeth.
She looked to me, with her platinum smile with her sparkling blue eyes. I knew I still had her by my side. She inspired me to not be negative. To not remember the pain, I suffered in my term of office.
We were travelling back from London to Truro, we both were in a Rolls Royce, a classic car with taste that conjoins with my preferences.
As I looked to my old home, Truro House, I forgot what the exterior looked like, it’s been so long since I glanced the view of my wonderful house but it was coming all back to me slowly. Slowly like a baby taking its first steps.
We walk in, greeting the members of staff who kept it in tip-top shape since our withdrawal to work in the most famous house in the political sphere of the United Kingdom, Downing Street.
We turn on the news to see that Charles Stewart wins the leadership election. What absolute controversy. And then this where it gets confusing, the leader of the opposition resigns and joins the Tories! I accept anyone into the Conservative party, whatever their previous political demographic may have been, but he was the puppet of Charles! The puppet.
The governmental façade caused such a fuss in the public eye, riots began to form in the capital city, uprising against their own Prime Minister. I wondered, what if I was in that position. I did not agree with Somerset, oh no I did not agree. But, I gave him sympathy, everyone hated him. Even his own wife divorced him because of that day.
I was sat in the drawing room watching it all happen, all news outlets reporting the same issue, the resignation of myself, the fall of the new Conservative administration.
What I was witnessing was truly medieval. Outrageous. I look to my dearest spouse, worried for not our lives, not our family but for the entire nation we both unselfishly served for the greater good.
His Lordship, Earl of Truro, Samuel Faith.