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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 15:40 GMT
Timeline: Mandelson's final day
Peter Mandelson gives his resignation statement
Mr Mandelson emerged from No 10 after a morning of talks
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson announced his resignation from the government at 1330GMT but there were straws in the wind much earlier in the day.


Wednesday morning's newspapers carry the story on their front pages with many effectively calling Mr Mandelson a liar.

Mr Mandelson is due to appear before the Commons for Northern Ireland questions in the afternoon, ahead of Prime Minister's questions.


0800

Early political interviews set the tone for a day of tension.

Home Office minister Charles Clarke, interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, is asked about the Hinduja affair.

"As with anything that comes along, it is far and away the best thing to tell the full story as openly as possible at the outset," is Mr Clarke's advice.

He defends his own department, saying: "The one think I am certain of is that the Home Office's processes in relation to this have been extremely rigorous and will continue to be."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Andrew Lansley says he will call for an inquiry into the passport application.

He tells Today: "On the face of it, there is evidence that the government guidelines on sponsorship were contravened. These are serious matters".


1050

Speculation that Mr Mandelson's days are numbered intensifies as he is summoned to Downing Street.

Prime Minister Tony Blair orders him to attend a meeting to "establish the facts" of his involvement with the passport affair.


1130

Mr Blair's official spokesman Alistair Campbell gives his daily briefing to journalists.

He says: "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."

Mr Campbell, looking extremely angry, all but publicly accuses Mr Mandelson of misleading him.

"One of the problems there has been is actually establishing ourselves all the various aspects of this," he tells journalists.

"The prime minister prepares very, very thoroughly for PMQs.

"Just as the prime minister prepares for PMQs, I prepare for these briefings so I had several conversations with all the people involved.

"I gave you the actual information as I had it. I had spoken to Peter over the weekend," he insists.


Midday

Speculation continues over the outcome of the ongoing conversation between Mr Mandelson and Mr Blair as the media wait outside Number Ten.

A Downing Street spokeswoman, asked about talk of an imminent resignation, replies: "We hear what you say."


1330

Mr Mandelson emerges from 10 Downing Street and announces his resignation.

But he tells waiting journalists: "I do not accept in any way that I have acted improperly in respect of any application for naturalisation as a British subject."

"I do accept however that when my office spoke to a Sunday newspaper at the weekend I should have been clear that it was me personally, not my official, who spoke to the Home Office minister."

"As a result of that, wrong information was given to the House by the Culture Secretary and by the Prime Minister's spokesman to the press. I accept responsibility for that."

It is the second time in his career that he has resigned from the government.


1430

In his last visit to the front bench Mr Mandelson braves the House of Commons to answer Northern Ireland questions.

The prime minister commends his "personal courage and a sense of duty" and pays tribute to his contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.

The Northern Ireland Secretary had "done the right and honourable thing" after the Commons had been misled, said Mr Blair.

Tory leader William Hague told MPs that the fact that Mr Blair had been forced to "sack" the same minister for the same offence twice showed that the Prime Minister had been guilty of a "monumental error of judgment" in having Mr Mandelson in his government.


Peter Mandelson is at the centre of a row over passport applications

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24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
24 Jan 01 | UK
22 Jan 01 | South Asia
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