When the Falklands War began in 1982, John Nott held the position of Britain’s Defence Minister. He met a barrage of criticism, along with Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, as a result of the conflict, but remained in his position.
Born on 1 February 1932 in Bideford, Devon, John Nott read Law and Economics at Trinity College, Cambridge, after serving as a lieutenant in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles while the Malayan Emergency was taking place. He was called to the Bar in the Inner temple in 1959 and took the position of general manager at merchant banking company S G Warburg’s the following year. Six years later, in 1966, he took up the role of Member of Parliament for St. Ives in Cornwall and was appointed Secretary of State for Trade by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979. He was named Defence Minister in 1981, again by Thatcher, and stayed in this role for two years until 1983, at which point he announced his retirement from politics.
It was while he was in the position of Defence Minister that the Falklands War began. Along with Lord Carrington, Nott suggested that he resign his position as a result of the general unhappiness from the public over the conflict. Nott was seen as the reason behind the implementation of naval cuts that had led to Argentina believing Britain was not worried about the locations she owned overseas. However, Thatcher refused to accept his resignation and he remained in the position until his retirement.
Nott’s autobiography, entitled ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,’ suggests a series of fascinating facts about the Falklands War. Nott said: “I must confess that I wasn’t much aware of the Falkland Islands before the invasion. I had a huge globe in my room in the Ministry of Defence and I went over to it to rediscover the geographical position of the Falklands. I was a bit horrified to see how far away they were.”
When the Falklands conflict was won by the British, Nott wrote: “This was a tremendous achievement and it definitely revived the self-confidence of the nation. It was an amazing episode in our history.”
Following his resignation from politics in 1982, Nott was made a Knight Commander, Order of Bath. He moved to Cornwall to enjoy his later years.
See also: Margaret Thatcher
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