Hazel Blears has become the second cabinet minister to resign in 24 hours. She is skipping PMQs and heading home to Salford this morning to spend more time with “her people” ahead of tomorrow’s local/European elections.
A friend says that the communities secretary felt “briefed against and picked on” by Gordon Brown’s allies. However, the person denied that Blears knew that she would be demoted in the imminent reshuffle: “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Blears’ allies deny that she had co-ordinated events with Bev Hughes, Jacqui Smith and Pat Hewitt, all of which said yesterday they were resigning. Others have their doubts.
Events are moving quickly and the pressure on the prime minister is growing by the hour. His ability to control events is diminished by the resignations.
Apparently Alistair Darling, David Miliband, James Purnell and Geoff Hoon are all reluctant to move post; would they outright refuse to move to new jobs?
Even the Guardian now thinks the prime minister should quit. Watch this space.
One former minister – and ally of Blears – says the Salford MP has been treated badly by the party. “There has been all kinds of mistakes made in the way No 10 have dealt with this ghastly crisis over expenses and the treatment of Hazel compared to other cabinet minister has left a sour taste in many people’s minds.”
Rumours swirling around about Caroline Flint, Europe minister and Jane Kennedy, farming minister, following suit. I wouldn’t give these too much credence: at this point.
Labourlist repeats the Flint rumour. And it has the entire Blears statement for your perusal.
If Brown is still standing next week – after what are expected to be grim results in Thursday’s elections – he faces what is effectively a motion of no confidence tabled by the Celtic nationalist parties.
The SNP and Plaid Cymru are holding an opposition day motion declaring: “This house requests the prime minister to seek the dissolution of the present Parliament.” How the Tories and Lib Dems act, and vote, will be fascinating.
Mike Weir, SNP member for Angus, is in line to ask a question at PMQs and will throw down this gauntlet towards the PM.