Clarke in as Home Secretary on Blunkett resignation

Following the yesterday's resignation of David Blunkett, Charles Clark has been elevated to the Home Office in a quick Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Blunkett stepped down as Home Secretary yesterday when it was revealed that an email from Mr Blunkett had sought to fast-track a visa application from his former lover's nanny.

The email which said "no favours but slightly quicker" finally led to Mr Blunkett falling on his sword and resigning as Home Secretary.

Taking over from Charles Clarke as Education Secretary is Ruth Kelly, 36, is the youngest member of the Cabinet.

Mr Blunkett's demise was swift. At 11am, No. 10 restated that the 57-year-old Home Secretary, who has become embroiled in a series of personal crises and associated allegations of abuse of power, had "the full confidence of Mr Blair", but at 6pm yesterday he was giving resignation interviews to the media.

The decision of Mr Blunkett to resign is viewed as a body blow for Mr Blair; for Mr Blunkett, 57, it is a career tragedy.

Paying tribute to Mr Blunkett opposition politicians said that he had made the right decision, but today the Tories called for a more wide reaching inquiry to be held.

Mr Blunkett said that his career had been wrecked by a failed relationship with Mrs Kimberly Quinn, with whom he claims to have fathered a son.

Yesterday, there were further allegations that Mr Blunkett had speeded-up a visa application for the nanny, Miss Casalme, to visit Austria.

Although a report from a Whitehall inquiry headed by Sir Alan Budd had not been expected until Monday December 20, it emerged that there had been an exchange by emails and fax with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

This was the final nail in the coffin, and Mr Blunkett, who looked strained and close to tears in television interviews, claimed that he could not remember details of any such exchanges other than in an attempt to deal with a "backlog in general".


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