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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 18:39 GMT
MP speaks of resignation 'regret'
Andy Reed, Labour MP
Mr Reed believes UN route is vital
The first person to resign from the government over Tony Blair's tough stance on Iraq has spoken of his "regret" at feeling the need to act.

Andy Reed said he had no choice but to quit as parliamentary private secretary to Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett because he felt so strongly about the crisis.

The Labour MP for Loughborough is one of several ministerial aides who object to British troops being sent to war without the full backing of the United Nations (UN).

He said he would continue to support the prime minister in his efforts to obtain a second resolution from the UN.

Official website

The MP's announcement on Sunday that he was to resign from the government came hours ahead of International Development Secretary Clare Short's outspoken attack on Mr Blair's "reckless" handling of the crisis.

She has threatened resignation if UN backing is not achieved.

Mr Reed made a statement on his official website on Monday.

Protesters at RAF Leuchars in Scotland
Protests against war have taken place across the UK
It reads: "My priorities when I joined the Labour Party 20 years ago were to tackle mass unemployment, poverty at home and abroad, and for proper investment in our pubic services.

"I have been pleased to serve in a government, led by Tony Blair, which is tackling these issues.

"Like everybody else I have had genuine concerns about the situation in Iraq, and my views have been well-aired to my constituents.

"But as I have already made clear the prime minister has my full support in his efforts to find a resolution, through the UN, and I do not want to distract him from that task at this delicate stage.

"It is with great regret that I stand down, but I will continue to prioritise representing my Loughborough constituency and helping the government achieve its priorities."

Mr Reed said it was a privilege to serve Mrs Beckett adding: "I will always be grateful to her for her support and friendship."

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