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Beckett to Resign

Following the damning report on her department - MPs want officials to answer for farm payments blunders | Uk News | News | Telegraph - Margaret Beckett is to announce her resignation today. As well as recognising the honourable principle of Ministerial Responsibility it is thought the embarrassing impotence of her team in response to the Iranian hostages is behind the move.

There is a rumour that Tony Blair may, with immediate effect, take over as Foreign Secretary in a move to recognise the gravity of the Middle Eastern problem and allow Gordon Brown to be "Acting Prime Minister". This will prevent the unsettling succession race and wrong foot the opposition.

This could be a date to remember - more to follow.

UPDATE I have been sent the following Embargoed Press Release.

EMBARGOED TONY BLAIR'S RESIGNATION SPEECH - NOT FOR RELEASE OR PUBLICATION

Good evening.
This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.
In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation. Throughout the long and difficult period of the Cash for Honours investigation, I have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the term of office to which you elected me.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Parliament to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.
But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.
I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
From the discussions I have had with Parliamentry and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Cash for Honours investigation I might not have the support of the Parliament that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as Prime Minister, I must put the interest of Britain first. Britain needs a full-time Prime Minister and a full-time Parliament, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.
To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the Prime Minister and the Parliament in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the Prime Ministership effective at noon tomorrow. Chancellor Gordon Brown will be sworn in as Prime Minister at that hour in this office.
As I recall the high hopes for Britain with which we began this third term, I feel a great sadness that I will not be here in this office working on your behalf to achieve those hopes in the next 21/2 years. But in turning over direction of the Government to Chancellor Gordon Brown, I know, as I told the Nation when I nominated him for that office 10 months ago, that the leadership of Britain will be in good hands.
In passing this office to the Chancellor Gordon Brown, I also do so with the profound sense of the weight of responsibility that will fall on his shoulders tomorrow and, therefore, of the understanding, the patience, the cooperation he will need from all Britons.
As he assumes that responsibility, he will deserve the help and the support of all of us. As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this Nation, to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us, and to rediscover those shared ideals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.
By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in Britain.
I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my Judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.
To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.
And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.
So, let us all now join together in affirming that common commitment and in helping our new Prime Minister succeed for the benefit of all Britons.
I shall leave this office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as your Prime Minister for the past 91/2 years. These years have been a momentous time in the history of our Nation and the world. They have been a time of achievement in which we can all be proud, achievements that represent the shared efforts of the Administration, the Parliament, and the people.
But the challenges ahead are equally great, and they, too, will require the support and the efforts of the Parliament and the people working in cooperation with the new Administration.
In the work of securing a lasting peace in the world, the goals ahead are even more far-reaching and more difficult. We must complete a structure of peace so that it will be said of this generation, our generation of Britons, by the people of all nations, that we prevented future wars.
In the Middle East, 100 million people in the Arab countries, many of whom have considered us their enemy for nearly 20 years, now look on us as their friends. We must continue to build on that friendship so that peace can settle at last over the Middle East and so that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.
Around the world, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin Britain, in the Middle East, there are millions of people who live in terrible poverty, even starvation. We must keep as our goal turning away from production for war and expanding production for peace so that people everywhere on this earth can at last look forward in their children's time, if not in our own time, to having the necessities for a decent life.
Here in Britain, we are fortunate that most of our people have not only the blessings of liberty but also the means to live full and good and, by the world's standards, even abundant lives. We must press on, however, toward a goal of not only more and better jobs but of full opportunity for every Briton and of what we are striving so hard right now to achieve, prosperity without inflation.
For more than a quarter of a century in public life I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believed in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted to me.
Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, "whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
I pledge to you tonight that as long as I have a breath of life in my body, I shall continue in that spirit. I shall continue to work for the great causes to which I have been dedicated throughout my years as a Parliamentarian and Prime Minister, the cause of peace not just for Britain but among all nations, prosperity, justice, and opportunity for all of our people.
There is one cause above all to which I have been devoted and to which I shall always be devoted for as long as I live.
When I first took the oath of office as Prime Minister 91/2 years ago, I made this sacred commitment, to "consecrate my office, my energies, and all the wisdom I can summon to the cause of peace among nations."
I have done my very best in all the days since to be true to that pledge. As a result of these efforts, I am confident that the world is a safer place today, not only for the people of Britain but for the people of all nations, and that all of our children have a better chance than before of living in peace rather than dying in war.
This, more than anything, is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the Prime Ministership. This, more than anything, is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the Prime Ministership
To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every Briton. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God's grace be with you in all the days ahead.

NOTE: The Prime Minister spoke at 9: 01 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House Cabinet Room at No 10 Downing Street. The address was broadcast live on radio and television.

Comments

Indeed it could be a date to remember. I've heard that Michael Meacher is being persuaded to take on the role Chancellor if he will drop his successful leadership campaign.

What a brilliant Bl(hot)air statement - loads of verbiage with absolutely no content. Wish it could be April 1st every day ....

Alan Douglas

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