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Labour's outgoing Chief Secretary's writes "joke" letter to his successor about the financial mess he has bequeathed

Liam ByrneBefore leaving office, Liam Byrne, who was Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the Labour Government, wrote a letter to be opened by whoever was appointed his successor.

As his successor, David Laws, explained this morning:

'When I arrived at my desk on the very first day as Chief Secretary, I found a letter from the previous chief secretary to give me some advice, I assumed, on how I conduct myself over the months ahead.

'Unfortunately, when I opened it, it was a one-sentence letter which simply said "Dear Chief Secretary, I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left", which was honest but slightly less helpful advice than I had been expecting.'

Byrne is saying that his letter was " a joke, from one Chief Secretary to another".

It was certainly rather shorter than the memo he infamously wrote for his civil servants about how to make his coffee.

Jonathan Isaby