After the extraordinary public reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, it took some courage – and arguably some brass neck – to oppose any plan to commemorate her memory.
But when Ethne Rudd, the secretary of the little-known Kensington Society, saw a proposal for the Diana Memorial Gardens to be established on her patch of south-west London in 1998, she determined to stop it.
The scheme, endorsed by then Chancellor Gordon Brown, involved concreting over several acres of grass in Kensington Gardens to create a formal garden as a tribute to Diana.
Amber Rudd resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary and followed in her mother’s footsteps who was formidable operator when circumstances demanded
But Mrs Rudd, a magistrate, church volunteer and staunch Tory supporter, was utterly appalled by the idea, and accompanying plans to enlarge the nearest tube station, to cope with the influx of visitors.
The Chancellor not only backed down, but sent officials to her home to see what alternatives might be acceptable. Mrs Rudd, who died in 2008 age 79, was a formidable operator when circumstances demanded, so it is no surprise that her memory was invoked by her daughter Amber Rudd at the weekend when she resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary.
Referring to Boris Johnson, she declared: ‘My mother used to say: ‘Judge a man by what he does and not by what he says’.’ Amber Rudd’s supporters say she believed what the Prime Minister was saying – that he wanted a deal with the EU – until it became clear to her that there was little or no follow-through.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried calling Amber Rudd when he heard about her rumoured departure in the hours leading up to her resignation but only found out about it when the news broke at 9pm
Ms Rudd’s brother and financial PR guru Roland Rudd said he was ‘proud of my sister’ and she is ‘principled, brave, honest and loyal’ by resigning from Cabinet
He (pictured) was one of the first people to salute her resignation
To Rudd it seemed all action and energy was being devoted to No Deal preparations. And so she walked. Miss Rudd may have decided to quit as early as Tuesday night when 21 rebel Tories were expelled – but she decided to wait until the weekend before going.
The timing of her announcement appears to have been deliberate. It was reported Mr Johnson had heard rumours of her planned departure on Saturday afternoon and tried to ring her.
She apparently ignored his calls for a number of hours and finally spoke to him as the news broke around 9pm.
Her older brother, Roland, a financial PR guru and multi-millionaire helping to bankroll the campaign for a second referendum, was one of the first to salute her latest Cabinet resignation (she also stood down from Theresa May’s government after the Windrush scandal).
He tweeted: ‘So proud of my sister. She’s principled, brave, honest and loyal to her friends.’ Loyalty is possibly not a virtue that her local Conservative association, in Hastings and Rye where she’s been the MP since 2010, recognises right now.
Six months ago Ms Rudd told BBC Newsnight that she would not rule out ‘resigning from the Cabinet’ if Mrs May’s government pressed ahead with No Deal
Whereas she spoke on the Andrew Marr Show about her lack of trust in the Prime Minister but believes the ‘huge machine’ going into no-deal preparations is out of balance, this morning
In 2017, she scraped home with a 346 majority.
The seat will now almost certainly fall into enemy hands while she says she intends to fight the next election as an independent Tory in another constituency.
A staunch Remainer, even some of those ‘loyal friends’ are still wondering why she ever contemplated a Cabinet job with Johnson, let alone accepted one.
During the referendum campaign, she mocked him as the ‘life and soul of the party but not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening’. (The PM still often greets Rudd with the words: ‘Want a lift?’) Under Theresa May, Rudd, then Home Secretary, was a key figure in the Cabinet revolt forcing No Deal off the table (while acknowledging the referendum result must be honoured).
The explusion of 21 Tory rebel MPs has given Ms Rudd an escape route for leaving after joining Cabinet in 2015 as Climate Change Secretary. Here she is pictured on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester next to Philip Hammond and the now Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Ms Rudd’s tweet tonight with her letter to the Prime Minister, a long-time friend and ally
Yet, just days before Johnson became party leader in July, she ditched her opposition in a radio interview.
Rudd said: ‘Both [Tory leadership] candidates have said that No Deal is part of the armoury and the negotiations going forward. And I have accepted that.’
Just six months earlier she’d told BBC Newsnight that she would not rule out ‘resigning from the Cabinet’ if Mrs May’s government pressed ahead with No Deal. It appeared to be a very public job application to keep her post as Work and Pensions Secretary.
But like Johnson’s brother Jo, another Remainer, she was deeply shaken by the criticism that she had sold her principles for a ministerial chauffeur-driven car.
As No Deal seemed the increasingly likely outcome to Brexit negotiations, it was the expulsion of 21 Tory rebel MPs last week – something she’d cautioned the Prime Minister against – that gave her an escape route.
Boris Johnson has lost his brother Jo Johnson (pictured left) and Amber Rudd now. He thought his friendship with Ms Rudd was strong strong enough to keep her in the Cabinet
The first senior minister to resign from Johnson’s Cabinet, Amber Rudd, 56, has made a habit of clocking up firsts, though not always to her advantage.
Six years after entering the Commons in 2010, she became Home Secretary, the fastest rise to one of the great offices of state in the post-war era. It was not all plain sailing.
Her plan to make companies publish lists of their foreign employees dismayed many businesses and led to suspicions that she was deserting her City roots.
The plan was quickly dropped but her reputation was damaged in the process.
Her downfall as Home Secretary in April 2018 was also swift. She quit after inadvertently misleading the home affairs select committee, saying the Home Office had no targets for the removal of illegal immigrants. But she was back in the Cabinet barely six months later, one of the fastest ever comebacks. The official report into her demise found officials had given her wrong information.
Amber Augusta Rudd, the youngest of four children, enjoyed a privileged upbringing in a large family home in Kensington and a country house in Wiltshire. Her father Tony was a Labour-supporting stockbroker.
After Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Edinburgh University, she worked in recruitment and dabbled in the film industry, serving as ‘aristocracy co-ordinator’ on the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. In 1990 she married AA Gill, the restaurant reviewer, and they had a son and daughter.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, she described how their stormy marriage broke down. They divorced in 1995.
Rudd was first brought into the Cabinet in 2015 as climate change secretary. In the 2017 election campaign, she stood in for Mrs May in a TV debate, just two days after her father’s death.
There was once speculation Rudd would have a tilt at the leadership but in this month’s poll on ConservativeHome website she was bottom in the league table of Cabinet minister approval ratings.
Last year Rudd said she and Boris were ‘good friends’ and I’m told the PM thought that friendship was strong enough to keep her in the Cabinet.
He made the same mistake with his brother Jo.
No wonder he’s worrying about who’s next.
Amber Rudd resigns with ‘great sadness’ but ‘no longer believes getting a deal from the EU is the Government’s main objective’
In her letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd said she was resigning with ‘great sadness’, but that she no longer believes getting a deal from the EU is the Government’s main objective.
The full letter said: ‘It is with great sadness that I am resigning as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Minister for Women and Equalities.
‘It has been an honour to serve in a department that supports millions of people and can be such a force for good. I would like to pay tribute to the thousands of people who work for the DWP across the country. They are committed public servants and I am proud of the work that we have done together over the last 10 months to create a more compassionate welfare system.
‘I would also like to thank you and the Chancellor of the Exchequer for your support in the recent Spending Review. I am so pleased that you committed to spend millions more supporting the most vulnerable in society, and I hope that the Government will stay committed to going further at the next fiscal event, building on the work the department has done.
‘This has been a difficult decision. I joined your Cabinet in good faith; accepting that ‘no deal’ had to be on the table, because it was the means by which we would have the best chance of achieving a new deal to leave on October 31.
‘However, I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the Government’s main objective.
‘The Government is expending a lot of energy to prepare for ‘no deal’ but I have not seen the same level of intensity go into our talks with the European Union, who have asked us to present alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.
‘The updates I have been grateful to receive from your office have not, regretfully, provided me with the reassurances I sought.
‘I must also address the assault on decency and democracy that took place last week when you sacked 21 talented, loyal One Nation Conservatives.
‘This short-sighted culling of my colleagues has stripped the party of broad-minded and dedicated Conservative MPs I cannot support this act of political vandalism.
‘Therefore, it is with regret that I am also surrendering the Conservative whip.
‘Britain’s body politic is under attack from both sides of the ideological debate. I will now play whatever role I can to help return it to a better place.
‘I have been lucky to have had extraordinary support from my Conservative Association since I was adopted as their candidate in 2006. Three times they helped elect me as their MP, keeping Labour at bay through nail-biting campaigns.
‘I remain a proud conservative and will continue to champion the values of fairness and compassion, and to support my constituents of Hastings and Rye.