Charles Clarke has been sacked as home secretary and, despite offers of other Cabinet posts, decided to retreat to the backbenches. Here is his statement in full:
It is with deep regret that I'm today leaving the office of home secretary, in which it's been my great honour to serve for the past 16 months.
In this role, as in previous jobs in government, it has been my ambition to bring about the change necessary to transform the security of this country in relation to counter-terrorism, policing, prisons and probation and immigration and asylum.
As I've sought to make the necessary changes to what are very deep-seated and long-standing problems, I have uncovered areas where still more and faster change is needed.
One such issue is how to deal with foreign national prisoners - for which I have taken overall responsibility and on which I have staked my reputation.
The prime minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the judgement that my continued occupation of the post of home secretary is likely to stand in the way of the continued reforms which remain necessary and though I do not agree with that judgement, I entirely accept his right to make it.
However, I do not think it would be appropriate to remain in government in these circumstances and return to the backbenches, where I will be a strong and active supporter of this government and the leadership of Tony Blair for his full parliamentary term.
Thank you very much.