We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest World news every morning.
David Blunkett’s resignation statement in full:
I have today stepped down from the government. I am guilty of a mistake and I have paid the price for it. But I want to stress that though I made a mistake, I have done nothing wrong.
This has been a tumultuous time in my life. If I think back to my first resignation - all those weeks ago - I can in some ways see a pattern emerging. I made a mistake. Then I made another one. Then I said I hadn’t made any mistakes. Then someone spotted that I had, so I had to admit it and resign.
After the election the prime minister brought me back into government. With hindsight this was a mistake.
For in the period following my resignation I made some more mistakes, although I prefer to think of them as misunderstandings. In particular I did not seek the advice of the advisory committee on business appointments when taking on business roles. I had assumed that since I was not compelled to take their advice there was no good reason to seek it. This was a mistake although it sprung from a misunderstanding. I assumed that, when the new cabinet secretary was asked to look into my actions, he would back me up, but I made a mistake. He didn’t.
I then assumed that no more embarrassing details of my financial dealings while outside of government would emerge. This was a mistake. But I would like to stress that it was the same mistake as my first mistake, which I have already stressed was more of a misunderstanding, and so I assumed this would not count as another mistake. In this I was mistaken.
After I was contacted again by the advisory committee I acknowledged my mistake and apologised. This was a mistake - I should never have put it in writing. When, a few weeks after acknowledging that mistake, I got another job, I again failed to contact the committee. It simply never occurred to me that someone as important as myself could be brought down for failing to observe the rules of some piffling little committee. This too was a mistake.
As part of this new job, I got a three per cent stake in a company in return for taking a directorship I knew I was going to have to resign within a fortnight. There was nothing illegal or even improper in this so I assumed that no-one would think it at all wrong that I was letting this company trade on my name for a piece of the action. This was a mistake and I have paid the price for it.
But I did not do this for myself but for my sons, whose inheritance I had eaten into in pursuit of the legal action to gain access to my son by my former lover and to establish my paternity of her second son. I make no apology for this. If loving your sons is a crime then I am guilty.
During my time out of government I consorted with some colourful characters in the Mayfair nightclub, Annabel’s. This was a mistake. It did not occur to me that sipping a banana daiquiri with a businessman whose partner might bung me a few big ones would incur the disapproval of my parliamentary colleagues. This was a mistake and I have paid the price for it. If liking the macarena is a crime, then I am guilty.
Arising from that meeting I met a woman who subsequently sold stories to the media about me. I made a mistake and the Mail on Sunday paid the price.
I would like to make three things clear. One, I have done nothing wrong. Two, where I have done something wrong; it does not really matter. Three, where it does matter I prefer to maintain that it doesn’t.
I would like to thank all my cabinet colleagues for their support over these difficult weeks, but as they haven’t given me any, I don’t suppose I can. I realise some were upset by my disparaging remarks about them to my biographer. All I can say is, that that was a mistake. I am not saying it was a mistake to regard my colleagues as a miserable and incompetent shower. But it was a mistake to articulate those views to a journalist.
I can, however, thank the prime minister for his steadfast support. Although I was desperate to stay on I realised that the focus on me was damaging the government and that was something I could not allow to happen. If believing passionately in this government is a crime then I am guilty.
The prime minister tried to persuade to me to tough it out. He said that when he had promised all those years ago that his government would be whiter than white, this was a mistake. At first I agreed. Then as I was leaving Downing Street I decided this was a mistake. So I went back and told him I was going. He said I was making a mistake but as it would get him out of a hole at prime minister’s question time he accepted my resignation.
I hope this statement clears up a number of misconceptions surrounding my departure. As you can now see I have resigned not because I have done anything wrong but because I made a mistake. Just one little mistake.
Get alerts on World when a new story is published