Gushing Nott note told of love for Iron Lady

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As resignation letters go, Sir John Nott’s missive on leaving the Thatcher government was somewhat unusual.

Mr Nott left the government in 1983, the same year he was knighted, to be replaced as Defence Secretary by Michael Heseltine.

In a private note sent to Margaret Thatcher in addition to a formal resignation letter, he expressed his admiration for her in gushing terms in what at points verges on becoming a love letter.

Acknowledging in the handwritten letter that he could not express the true nature of their friendship in a public letter, he writes: “Your greatest triumph as a PM, if I may say so, is that your colleagues actually like you. Some of them even love you, just a little!”

He went on to elaborate: “It is inexcusable to say so nowadays but I actually admire you as a woman – your good looks, charm and bearing have always attracted me, as a man.

“I’m sorry, but what is wrong with that! I think your emotional, instinctive and unpragmatic approach to most issues – so very unmasculine – is the secret of your success in the male-dominated world of politics.

“Today there is no way that a methodical, rational and consensus approach to the nation’s problems can overcome them. Until you gained the leadership we were a ‘Whips Party’; I am glad that we are now a gut ‘instincts party’.”

He signs the letter with: “Love – John.”

Mr Nott mentioned the letter in his memoir and notes the Prime Minister did not reply.

The archive also reveals that Mrs Thatcher rubbed shoulders with double agent Oleg Gordievsky long before she became aware of the role he would play in the Cold War.

Mr Gordievsky passed vital information to MI6 during the 1980s while serving as the Soviet Union’s most senior spy in Britain.

His name is included on a list of attendees at a buffet lunch at a Bournemouth hotel in 1983 after a speech by the Prime Minister.