Jowell brushes off resignation claim

By politics.co.uk staff

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has refused to confirm claims made by Charles Clarke she nearly resigned earlier this year.

The former home secretary told the Guardian earlier this week that Ms Jowell had been among those rumoured to be close to quitting, after work and pensions secretary James Purnell unexpectedly walked away from the government.

Ms Jowell, speaking to the Evening Standard, denied the suggestion forcefully.

“If I had been going to leave, I would have left when Tony [Blair] stood down,” she said.

“I’m a woman of my own views and it wouldn’t occur to me to plan something like that with anyone else. James’ resignation was something that shocked and hurt me. I didn’t even sense it was coming, let alone think of joining it.”

Mr Clarke’s outspoken comments against the prime minister, who he has openly called on to stand down, warned at the Liberal Democrat conference he fears Labour could be out of power for at least a decade.

“Are we just going to stand by and watch the whole Labour ship crash onto the rocks of May 2010?” he told the Guardian.

“Those who believe there is some kind of pendulum, where we go out this year and come back next, are completely and utterly wrong.”