Geoffrey Howe was the last member of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s first cabinet who was still there at the end — the bitter end — of her third and last cabinet. Indeed, it was his words that toppled her government. Howe died last week at 88.
Several obituaries in the British press made much of the manner of his parting — which led swiftly and directly to Thatcher’s fall from power. This is how the Economist put it (“What Geoffrey Howe’s career revealed about power — and Thatcherism,” Oct. 11, 2015):
Nothing in Geoffrey Howe’s ministerial career became him like leaving it. Browbeaten and humiliated one too many times by Margaret Thatcher, he stepped down as deputy prime minister and — as a colleague later put it — “wielded the dagger of Brutus” by lambasting her in the House of Commons.