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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 16:01 GMT
Wednesday, 2 November, 2005

Details of tonight's programme
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Jeremy Paxman's biography

DETAILS OF TONIGHT'S PROGRAMME

From programme producer Kate McAndrew

It was all over by ten o'clock.

The Westminster village had begun to smell a rat half an hour earlier. David Blunkett was meant to appear in front of a Commons committee at half past nine, but it still hadn't started 20 minutes later.

Now, Commons committees take themselves very seriously and don't like to be kept waiting, so when we heard that Mr Blunkett had gone to Downing Street, it was becoming pretty clear that the gig was up.

Prime Minister's Questions at 12 was dominated by the news, then a mass exodus to the Foreign Press Association to hear the former Pensions Secretary make a statement.

He admitted he was at fault for not seeking advice and he was deeply sorry for any pain he'd caused the Prime Minister. But as well as appearing to take it on the chin, there were some darker moments. The Sunday papers came in for quite a lot of flak, as did Chris Grayling for the Conservatives. Max Clifford, he said rather ominously, he would deal with at some point in the future...

But some questions remain, and the press finally got to ask some directly. Had he really just lost the will to fight? Did he really resign, or had Mr Blair asked him to go? Mr Blunkett said that he'd actually been to see the PM twice this morning. The first time he offered to resign, he said, the PM talked him out of it.

But as soon as he left Downing Street to go to Portcullis House to do his committee appearance, he changed his mind. His position was untenable he decided, so he went back to see the PM to resign.

We'll be devoting most of tonight's programme to the decline and fall of Mr Blunkett. What finally prompted his departure today, and what went wrong for one of the safest pairs of hands Mr Blair had around?

Will Mr Blunkett's departure make life more difficult for the Prime Minister already dealing with a fractious cabinet and a self-determined personal shelf-life?

Tonight, friends and foes of Mr Blunkett, watchers and opinion formers, will join Martha Kearney, David Grossman, and Michael Crick.

All with Jeremy Paxman at 10.30pm.

Hope you can join us.

Kate


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