The MP for Lewes, Norman Baker, has resigned from his ministerial post in the Home Office, describing working in the department as like ‘walking through mud’.
Mr Baker said juggling his role as a minister for four and a half years with his constituency work was very demanding and it had left him with less time to spend with his family and pursue his outside interests, such as music.
In his letter of resignation to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Mr Baker said at the Home Office, the goodwill to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy had been in somewhat short supply.
Writing to Mr Clegg, the Lewes MP said: “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, Mr Baker said he was proud of what he had achieved during his time as a minister.
He said he was 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’.
He was also pleased he created a cross-departmental commitment to tackle female genital mutilation, helped into law a more effective approach to anti-social behaviour and launched a government document that promoted alternatives to animal experiments.
Mr Baker said: “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.”
The MP said he planned to stand again for election as Lewes MP and also said the next election was likely to produce another hung parliament.
A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg 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.”
Mr Clegg said the MP handled the political relationships within Government with great skill.