Midland MP Khalid Mahmood sensationally quit the government today in protest at Tony Blair’s refusal to set a date for his resignation.
The MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, who was regarded as a Blair loyalist, was thought to have been part of 17-strong group who signed a letter calling for Mr Blair to stand down as Prime Minister.
The letter caused shockwaves in the Labour Party, with Mr Blair accusing those who signed the letter of risking the party’s chances in the next general election.
But Mr Mahmood, who stood down as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Home Office minister Tony McNulty, claimed Mr Blair “no longer [served] the best interests of the party or the country.”
In his resignation letter, Mr Mahmood said: “It is with great regret that I am writing to you to offer my resignation from my position as parliamentary private secretary to Tony McNulty MP at the Home Office.
“Our Labour government has achieved a huge amount for this country, investing in and reforming our public services and lifting millions of our most vulnerable citizens out of poverty. Your leadership since 1994 has been inspirational.
“The party and the nation owe you a tremendous debt.
“It is imperative that we continue this work for the good of our party and our country.
“This has always been my primary concern.
“It was what drew me into Labour politics as a very young man, and what has underpinned the unswerving loyalty I have always demonstrated to you personally and the party as a whole.
“The party and the Labour government’s work is more important than any individual.
“Sadly, I feel that your remaining in office no longer serves the best interests of the party or the country.
“Given which views, it is with the greatest regret that I must leave the government.”
Six other MPs also resigned from their posts. Junior Defence Minister Tom Watson, Wayne David, Ian Lucas, Mark Tami, David Wright and Chris Mole took action after lending their signatures to the letter.