James Purnell has this evening resigned
From the BBC:
James Purnell has stepped down from the cabinet and told Prime Minister Gordon Brown to “stand aside”
In a letter to the Sun and the Times, the work and pensions secretary said he was not seeking the leadership but wanted to trigger a debate.
Mr Purnell is the third cabinet member to announce they are standing down in the past few days.
Mr Brown is set to reshuffle his cabinet as he fights to survive as prime minister.
In his letter, Mr Purnell said he owed it to the Labour Party to “say what I believe no matter how hard that may be”.
He said Mr Brown’s continued leadership of the party made a Conservative victory at the next general election “more not less likely”.
I can’t see any way back from this – first Smith, then Blears, now Purnell. His allies are melting away, and his enemies giving themselves sufficient arms-length distance to strike. By not even waiting for the results of the local elections it is clear that Brown must surely be finished.
UPDATE: Spectator Coffee House announce rumour that David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary, may resign tomorrow. We’ll keep you updated.
UPDATE II: LabourList is reporting that Andy Burnham might also be resigning – if this scoop proves to be correct, then congratualtions to them. Read it here
UPDATE III: Fraser Nelson has the lowdown on why Purnell quit – seems he was offered Education, and refused, but that means Balls is likely to get the Treasury and Darling will be demoted or shifted sideways (hat-tip Christian May via the Live Feed on Tory Bear).
UPDATE IV: BBC News 24 is reporting that David Milliband has denied that he is resigning tomorrow (hat-tip Bloggerheads via Twitter)
UPDATE V: Betfair now has Gordon Brown to leave office in the period April-June 2009 at 1.53 (1/2 in old money). Gordon Brown is now odds on to no longer be Prime Minister by the end of the month.
UPDATE VI: News 24 reporting Burnham will NOT be resigning from the Cabinet and remains loyal to the PM. Brown has somehow brought two Blairites back from the edge. Where are Harman, Johnson and Mandelson?
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