Blair names Clarke as new Home Secretary


Former British education secretary Charles Clarke has been installed as the new Home Secretary in a swift reshuffle of the Labour cabinet following Mr David Blunkett's resignation yesterday.

Mr Blunkett, a key Blair ally, resigned his post yesterday after weeks of newspaper stories about his affair with a married woman, his paternity claims over her son and allegations he abused his office to help her nanny get a visa.

As the new Home Secretary, Mr Clarke must quickly master a packed law-and-order brief and a raft of anti-terrorism policies that form a central plank of Mr Blair's reelection agenda.

Considered a safe cabinet heavyweight, Mr Clarke was in turn replaced at education by high-flier Ms Ruth Kelly, known for her strong showing as a minister at the Treasury Department.

I've taken more stress than any politician should.
Former British Home Secretary Mr David Blunkett

Mr Blunkett (57) resigned from his post after weeks of accusations he abused his position to speed up a visa for the Filipina nanny of his married former lover, US-born publisher Ms Kimberly Quinn.

An inquiry into that charge is to report within days but Mr Blunkett pre-empted it, saying he had inadvertently accelerated the visa by writing a letter that highlighted general delays.

Mr Blunkett said the last few weeks had been the worst of his life. "I've taken more stress than any politician should," he said.

He became British Home Secretary three months before the September 11th, 2001, attacks in the United States and was the key figure behind Britain's response to the threat of attack.

His tough stance angered some civil rights groups, who campaigned against his decision to detain terrorism suspects without trial.