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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 12:11 GMT
Pressure intensifies on Blunkett
By Nick Assinder
Political Correspondent, BBC News website

Things were always likely to get worse for David Blunkett before they got better - and so it has proved.

David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett is said to have criticised colleagues
Another weekend has seen further revelations about his private life, with claims of a second affair.

A new biography has detailed criticisms he is claimed to have levelled at his cabinet colleagues, including the prime minister, most of whom have recently supported him.

His ex-lover has insisted she wants to give evidence to the Budd inquiry into whether he fast-tracked a visa application for her nanny.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has stepped into the affair for the first time, suggesting Mr Blunkett's use of official rail warrants for his mistress had been unwise and would "corrode" his position.

And the Tory party has changed tack by suggesting Mr Blunkett should resign if it was shown he had influenced the visa decision, even unwittingly.

Lay blame

Shadow ministers have also again insisted there are other issues which could affect Mr Blunkett's position beyond the visa application.

It all amounts to the predictable drip, drip of allegations and revelations which - despite the continuing support of the prime minister - many believe could still prove his downfall.

The change of approach by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis is particularly significant as it suggests the Tories believe the Budd inquiry is likely to clear Mr Blunkett of personally fast-tracking the visa application.

Mrs Kimberly Quinn
Mrs Quinn will give evidence to probe
They seem to suspect that the inquiry will lay the blame at the door of an over-enthusiastic official.

That will inevitably raise the question, however, of whether that official acted in the way they believed the home secretary wanted them to.

That becomes extremely murky territory and the Tories have widened their net to meet that eventuality.

But, along with the Liberal Democrats, they have also insisted the home secretary is in difficulty in other areas not covered by the Budd investigation.

Court battle

The Lib Dems have focused on the rail warrants, for which Mr Blunkett has already apologised and repaid the money, claiming it was a genuine mistake.

There also remain questions over whether he revealed security information to Mrs Quinn in breach of the ministerial code.

This is not going to stop. The Budd inquiry is set to report within the next few days, there is a looming court battle over Mr Blunkett's access to Mrs Quinn's child, who he claims he fathered, and there is the forthcoming birth of her next child which the home secretary also claims is his.

And Mr Blunkett himself has said, if it comes to a choice, he is ready to put his children above his career.

All this in the run up a general election campaign which will have law and order issues at its core.

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