More blues for Brown as minister quits

News that Communities Secretary Hazel Blears would quit, on the eve of European and local elections in which Brown’s government faces a rout, adds to speculation about Brown’s own future with a general election due within a year.
“I have told the prime minister that I am resigning from the government,” Blears, who is responsible for local government affairs, said in a statement.
Saying she wanted to focus on her Manchester constituency in northern England, she said: “Most of all I want to help the Labour party to reconnect with the British people.”
Her announcement pre-empted a cabinet reshuffle expected as early as Friday and stole the initiative from Brown.
“There is a clear sense of senior ministers getting ahead of Brown removing them. It’s clearly an effort for them to keep the initiative and go on their own terms,” said Tony Travers, a politics professor. “That means that they are uninterested in Gordon Brown and the appearance of Gordon Brown’s government, they are doing this for their own sake.”

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