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World at One Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 15:03 GMT
Mandelson forced out
Mandelson
Mandelson suggested his political aspirations were over
Peter Mandelson has been forced to leave the Cabinet for a second time, and has indicated that he has had enough of politics.

The Northern Ireland Secretary was summoned to Downing Street just before 1100 GMT on Wednesday to give a full account of his dealings with the Hinduja Brothers, who donated 1m to the Dome project.

Explaining the meeting, Tony Blair's official spokesman, Alistair Campbell said: "The Prime Minister has got to face the House of Commons this afternoon and there are a number of areas of fact he feels the need to pin down."

Earlier in the day, Mr Campbell was unable to conceal his anger at the way Mr Mandelson had dealt with the affair since the story broke at the weekend.

Downing Street was concerned about Mr Mandelson's evasion over a telephone call to a Home Office Minister over an application for naturalisation by Srichand Hinduja.

Resignation speech

After a marathon discussion inside No 10, Mr Mandelson finally emerged - two minutes after the end of the World at One - to announce his resignation.

He insisted that he had not acted "improperly in any way" in respect to Mr Hinduja's application for naturalisation.

Suggesting that his political ambitions were over, he added that he wanted to remove himself from the "countless stories and controversies of feuds and divisions" that have surrounded him.

He announced that he would stay for a final Northern Ireland Questions session and Prime Minister's Question time this afternoon, and would then formally resign.

Unpopular

By coincidence, the Parliamentary Labour Party had been meeting this morning, and the BBC's political correspondent Norman Smith was there.

"The sentiment was that in the run up to an election the last thing Labour needed was these sort of mistakes.

Afterwards he spoke to a number of Labour MPs and he said he failed to find a single MP who would defend Mandelson.

"The sort of phrases I was getting were 'he's not done Labour any good' and 'don't expect a queue of people lining up to support him'," he said.

Questions unanswered

Michael Ancram, the Tory Party chairman indicated to the World at One that Mr Mandelson's resignation would not be sufficient to settle the row.

Questions still remain to be answered over the assistance Mr Mandelson provided the Hindujas.

The World at One was expecting to speak to the Scottish Secretary, John Reid, but he was withdrawn shortly before the time agreed.

When the interview was fixed we sent a list of questions to Downing Street:

  • What was the precise date of the conversation between Peter Mandelson and Mike O'Brien?

  • Was a tape made of the conversation? Or were notes made? Does that record still exist?

  • What prevents the record being made public if everyone acted in a completely appropriate way?

  • What precisely did Mr Mandelson ask and what did Mr O'Brien say in reply?

  • What action, if any, did Mr O'Brien subsequently take?

  • Were there any subsequent conversations either between Mr Mandelson and Mr O'Brien or between their officials and/or assistants ?

  • What details can he give of Mr Mandelson's contacts on behalf of a third Hinduja brother, in the year 2000?

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Tory Party Chairman Michael Ancram
"The spotlight is now on the Prime Minister's judgement"
Backbench Labour MP, Peter Snape
"He's proved to be somewhat accident prone"
Links to more World at One stories are at the foot of the page.


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