Third UK Minister Resigns Over Blair's Iraq Policy
Tue March 18, 2003 06:32 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - A mid-ranking British interior minister, John Denham, resigned from government on Tuesday, becoming the third minister to quit in protest at Prime Minister Tony Blair's hawkish Iraq policy.

"John Denham has resigned," a Downing Street spokesman told Reuters.

Denham, a Home Office minister who has also served in the Department of Health, said in a statement he could not support the government in a vote later on Tuesday about whether to wage war on Iraq, when Blair will face a major rebellion from within his ruling Labour party.

Denham's decision follows the resignation on Monday of the high profile former foreign secretary Robin Cook as the government's leader in parliament.

Junior health minister Lord Hunt also quit on Tuesday but the decision of Cabinet minister Clare Short to stay in government will buoy up Blair.

International Development Secretary Short, who vowed to quit over war and called Blair reckless, reconsidered overnight and decided to stay although she added: "I remain very critical of the way the Iraq crisis has been handled."