Prescott faces increasing pressure to resign

Beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is continuing to face increasing calls to resign.

Mr Prescott, who is running the country this week while Prime Minister Tony Blair is on holiday, faced more controversy when photographs of him playing croquet at his country home on the day he took over from Mr Blair were published.

In April, he faced criticism when it emerged that he had had an affair with one of his secretaries. The following month, he was stripped of his departmental responsibilities in a Cabinet reshuffle following the local elections. However, he kept the title of Deputy Prime Minister, as well as his £133,000 ministerial salary and his perks, to the anger of many Labour backbenchers, as well as the opposition parties.

On Monday, Downing Street said that Mr Prescott still had the full support of the Prime Minister.

Ian Mackenzie, a former special adviser to Mr Prescott also described him as one of the hardest-working government ministers.

However, senior Labour backbencher Ian Gibson told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme: "What matters to the person in the street is what he (Mr Prescott) is doing, what is his job.

"He has all the fringe benefits and so on, but yet it's not clear what his position is."

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, also called for Mr Prescott's resignation, describing him as a "national laughing stock". He said: "By only half-sacking the Deputy Prime Minister at the reshuffle, Tony Blair created this mess by not having the courage or conviction to finish the job.

"The fact that John Prescott is being paid large sums of money to do little or nothing adds to the general malaise surrounding this government and the feeling that ministers are incapable of tackling serious issues."

The Conservatives also seized on the publication of an official staff handbook for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which warned that "inappropriate use" of official time and the workplace could constitute misconduct and be regarded as a disciplinary offence, to further attack Mr Prescott.

Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government Caroline Spelman said: "It comes as no surprise that a man who couldn't even pay his own council tax bill can't be bothered to read his own official handbook.

"This just shows that there seems to be one rule for Labour ministers living it up at taxpayers' expense and another for everyone else.

"Perhaps if John Prescott has read the rulebook, he wouldn't be where he is now."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

01 June 2006
Prescott surrenders Dorneywood retreat
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has given up his grace-and-favour home, Dorneywood, it has been announced. Mr Prescott has been heavily criticised for keeping Dorneywood, after he was stripped of his ministerial duties in last month's Cabinet reshuffle.
06 June 2003
Prescott puts diplomacy on the long finger
John Prescott, the man who nominally keeps his hand on the tiller of Great Britain plc when Tony Blair is out of the country, raised a hand – and two fingers – in salute of the press pack outside Downing Street yesterday.
06 June 2007
Prescott treated for pneumonia
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is continuing to be treated for pneumonia in a high-dependency unit in hospital.
27 September 2004
New plans set to get first time buyers on property ladder
Proposals to make better use of public sector land and help first time buyers have been outlined by the Deputy Prime Minister today. Smarter use of public sector-owned land and driving down spiralling construction costs would help people get onto the housing ladder, John Prescott said. Since 2003 the number of first time buyers has fallen by 27%.
09 May 2006
Prescott calls for end to leadership 'war'
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has called for supporters of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown to stop their 'war' over the Labour party leadership. Mr Prescott, who made the comments in an interview with 'The Independent', said that an "orderly and smooth transition" was needed.