Blair ally resigns from Cabinet again


LONDON -- David Blunkett, a senior Cabinet minister who has become a lightning rod for scandal and bad publicity, has been forced to resign for the second time in less than a year.

After weeks of mounting pressure over some questionable business dealings, Blunkett admitted yesterday that he had violated ministerial ethics guidelines. He submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"I am guilty of a mistake and I am paying the price of it," he told reporters. He said he was "deeply sorry" for embarrassing Blair, who remained a staunch backer to the very end.

"He goes in my view with no stain of impropriety against him whatsoever," Blair declared.

In many ways, Blunkett's rise and fall is one of the more compelling stories in British politics. Blind since birth, the product of working-class Sheffield, he is an up-by-the-bootstraps politician who was widely respected but little loved. Many saw him as a future prime minister.

A year ago, he was the home secretary, one of the most powerful men in government, but his personal life began to unravel after a messy affair with American socialite Kimberly Quinn, who is married to the publisher of the British edition of Vogue magazine.

He was forced to resign last December when it came to light that he used his influence to help Quinn obtain a visa for her foreign nanny.

But after Blair was re-elected to a third term in May, he quickly brought Blunkett back into the government, naming him work and pensions secretary.

This time, Blunkett was brought low by poor business judgment. After his first resignation from the Cabinet, he took lucrative paid positions with two companies and a private charity without consulting the advisory committee that enforces the government's ethics code.

Tom Hundley writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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