MP John Hayes promises to be an “outspoken but not unreasonable” backbencher after quitting Theresa May’s Government on Tuesday morning.
Mr Hayes (59) was about to be reshuffled out of his job as Transport Minister when he met the Prime Minister in her office in the Commons.
... now I am looking forward to the next phase of my career, which is to be an outspoken backbencher fighting for campaigns and causes which you can never quite do when you are a Minister.John Hayes
“She was very courteous and complimentary about what I had achieved,” said Mr Hayes. “It wasn’t a hostile meeting.”
The South Holland and the Deepings MP had served on the Tory front bench for 18 years – and, since 2010, had been a Minister in six Government departments – but Mrs May was intent on promoting a new generation of MPs.
Five Tory leaders, including Mrs May, put Mr Hayes on their front bench and David Cameron took him to the heart of his Government as a special adviser, which saw him working at 10 Downing Street.
Mr Hayes said: “Mrs May said I had an exceptional record in Government. Clearly Prime Ministers have to shuffle their packs from time to time and now I am looking forward to the next phase of my career, which is to be an outspoken backbencher fighting for campaigns and causes which you can never quite do when you are a Minister.
“We agreed I would not be removed, I would offer my resignation. I think in these circumstances that was the right thing to do.”
In a handwritten resignation, Mr Hayes lists some of his achievements as a Minister but also expresses the hope that he can “continue to assist with policy development” and, as agreed with Mrs May, help Conservative Central Office boost party membership.
Mr Hayes told us: “My ambition was to become an MP and being a Government Minister was a bonus. There’s always sadness about change but you have got to see this as a new beginning, that’s the way I see it. The way you respond to these things defines you, doesn’t it?
He will use his new freedom to speak out without being restricted to a ministerial portfolio.
He said: “I have often thought there are things you can say as a backbencher that you simply cannot say in Government when you are bound by collective responsibility. I will be outspoken but not unreasonable.”
Mr Hayes will campaign for disabled and disadvantaged people, and “look again at education and skills”, having rebuilt the apprenticeship programme as a Minister.
He said: “I will be championing the cause of Brexit very strongly. We must leave the European Union lock, stock and barrel. There should be no compromise there.”
• John Henry Hayes CBE was born in Woolwich, London on June 23, 1958. He graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BA degree in politics and a PGCE in history and English.
Before entering Parliament, he was a sales director for The Data Base Ltd, an IT company based in Nottingham.
He was elected to Nottinghamshire County Council in 1985 and served there for 13 years, standing down following his election to parliament.
He contested Derbyshire North East at the 1987 general election but was defeated by Labour’s Harry Barnes by 3,720 votes. He fought the same seat at the 1992 general election and although he increased the Tory vote, finished some 6,270 votes behind Barnes.
He became MP for the new constituency of South Holland and the Deepings in May 1997 and secured a sixth term in June 2017 with a majority of 70 per cent (24,897).
After several years as a front bench opposition MP his first Government position was as Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, which he held from May 2010 to September 2012.
He then was switched to Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, a position he held only until March 2013 when he was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office.
Hayes was appointed as Minister of State at the Department for Transport in the reshuffle of July 2014 but after the 2015 general election, was moved to the Home Office, being appointed Minister of State for Security.
In the government formed by Theresa May in July 2016, Hayes was reshuffled back to the Department for Transport.
He lives in Moulton with wife Susan and sons William and Edward, who both attend Spalding Grammar School.