British transport minister Ruth Kelly is to step down from the government in order, she says, to spend more time with her family. The former head of the education and local government ministries has four children aged between five and 11. She told the annual conference of the ruling Labour party that she needed to take a step back from politics and put her family first.
The British media, however, have been speculating on ulterior motives. Some reports suggested that Kelly, a close ally of former prime minister Tony Blair, never showed the same support for Blair’s successor Gordon Brown. But Brown has insisted her departure has no political undertones.
His crucial conference speech on Tuesday met with warm press reviews and he hopes a cabinet reshuffle, expected at the end of next week, will give fresh impetus to his party. Labour has been hit by rumours of rebellion and low ratings in the opinion polls.