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They say the first rule of politics is never to resign. But in recent decades Britain’s politicians have all too often failed – or refused – to cling on. This roaring dash through the most sensational political resignations of the past century charts the scandals, controversies and cock-ups that forced key players to quit.

Each chapter focuses on a different episode, from the former minister who faked his own death in the 1970s to Geoffrey Howe’s perfectly executed plot to topple the Prime Minister in the 1990s and Chris Huhne’s swift journey from despatch box to jail cell in the 2010s.

The book also examines the swathe of sex and spy scandals that have killed dreams of high office, from peers busted in bed with prostitutes to MPs caught cavorting in public parks, and, of course, the Profumo affair.

Exclusive interviews lift the lid on the inside stories of some of the highest profile incidents of recent years, while older episodes are told in vivid detail.

Who jumped and who was pushed? Who battled to stay in post and who collapsed at the first hint of pressure? Who came back, Lazarus-like, after their resignation for a second act? Find out in Fighters and Quitters.

From ignominious surrenders to principled departures, it reveals the tales of the politicians who fell on their swords and explores the reasons why they did.


A superb highlights reel of unscheduled departures from West­minster.

The Australian

Some were brought down by high-minded principle, others by basic lust. Theo Barclay details the ambition, the cover-ups and the chicanery behind many of the great resignations of modern politics – stories which seemed extraordinary at the time, and look even more bizarre in retrospect. Theo Barclay writes with fun and flair, and has a great future as a political historian.

Michael Crick, Channel 4 News

The dreary old saw about how political careers end deadens a truth which this book so engagingly brings to life – it falls to some in public life to fail spectacularly. The victims of their own greed, duplicity, arrogance and stupidity, these notables are sped to their doom by double-crossing call girls, scheming colleagues, persistent hacks and, surprisingly often, by just sheer bad luck. Theo Barclay charts their downfall with great wit, learning and humanity. Aspirants should read it as a warning; participants as a manual. The rest of us can simply enjoy the shiver of schadenfreude.

Francis Elliott, The Times political editor

Elegance, panache… a sure-fire box office smash.

David Singleton, Total Politics

An incisive and entertaining canter through political misdeeds.

John Preston, the Telegraph

Amazing stories, beautifully delivered.

Emma Barnett, BBC Radio 5 Live

Brilliant & pithy!

Roger Lewis
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  • Hardback, 320 pages
  • Biteback Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781785901041
  • 5 February 2018
  • £20.00

  • eBook
  • Biteback Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781785903540
  • 5 February 2018
  • £16.99

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