Kelly resignation sparks reshuffle speculation

Transport secretary Ruth Kelly has said family reasons compel her to step down from the government “at the next Cabinet reshuffle”, prompting speculation about when such a move will be.

A Labour party spokesperson told the prime minister reserved the right to implement a reshuffle at any time, but analysts say Ms Kelly’s resignation significantly raises its possibility in the near future.

Ms Kelly, 40, said she is leaving her position in the Cabinet to spend more time with her family.

“After committing most of my adult years to politics, I now want to devote more time to my family,” she told the party conference in Manchester.

“I owe it to my children and family to put them first. If I do not, then I know that this will be something I will come to deeply regret.”

A Downing Street spokesman had earlier confirmed her departure but was unable to say when she would be replaced. Ms Kelly said this would be her last speech to conference as a Cabinet minister, indicating the move will come before the spring conference next year.

The Bolton West MP had told Gordon Brown back in May about her decision to “step back” from politics but had no influence on the timing of today’s announcement.

Ms Kelly said that her decision was “absolutely, completely for personal reasons” and rejected claims it was over her objection to the human fertilisation and embryology bill.

“I owe it to my family to put them first,” she said, before ending that she would continue to support the Labour party.

In a series of television interviews this morning, the prime minister said he supported Ms Kelly’s decision.

“Ruth Kelly’s a very good friend of mine – she feels the tension between being a constituency MP, a minister and having a family of four,” he told Sky News.

“She wants to spend more time with her children. This was a very personal decision.”

Reports suggest the transport secretary will step down in the next Cabinet reshuffle.

Ms Kelly was elected to parliament in 1997 and has been a member of the Cabinet since 2004.