UK & World News

  • 11 August 2014, 15:32

Second Minister In A Week Quits Foreign Office

Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds has resigned - six days after Baroness Warsi quit over the Government's stance on Gaza.

Downing Street insisted the move was not a protest over government policy in the Middle East.

Letters released between the Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness and Prime Minister David Cameron suggested his resignation was agreed at the time of last month's reshuffle.

Mr Simmonds also said he would not be standing as an MPat the next general election, in May 2015.

But the minister asked to continue to chair the UN Security Council, which took place last week.

Number 10 also insisted the resignation was not linked to Mr Simmonds failing to take part in last year's vote on military action in Syria, saying he set out his reasons for that at the time.

Sky News Political Correspondent Anushka Asthana said: "On the face of it, there are a lot of questions to be asked about a second foreign office minister going.

"There is a lot going on that requires the Foreign Office to be acting at the moment and people would say it is quite an inexperienced team.

"They lost Baroness Warsi last week with her complaints over Gaza. Now Mr Simmonds is going, and there were other changes in the reshuffle including the Foreign Secretary.

"So, there are some questions about whether they have the wealth of experience they need.

"Downing Street insists that they do and that Philip Hammond is doing an excellent job in his role as Foreign Secretary.

"We all want to hear from Mr Simmondsas to exactly what he does think about the current situation."

Mr Simmonds told Mr Cameron in his resignation letter it had been "a huge privilege" to serve in the PM's government and in his Lincolnshire constituency.

The junior minister also thanked the PM for allowing him to chair the UN Security Council meeting "as one of my last acts as a minister".

Mr Cameron said Mr Simmonds still had "much more to give" and had been an "incredibly loyal colleague, but also a good friend".

Tory MPJames Duddridge will replace the Africa Minister at the Foreign Office.

BaronessWarsilast week attacked the Government's "approach and language" during the month-long conflict in Gaza as "morally indefensible".

She said: "I always said long after life in politics I must be able to stand by the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that."

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