Short resigns ending strategic relationship for churches
Clare Short has resigned as international development secretary, ending a controversial ministerial career, but one in which she worked closely with churches, church leaders and aid agencies.
She resigned accusing Tony Blair of breaching assurances he made to her about the need for a "UN mandate to establish a legitimate Iraqi government".
The resignation will be a blow to many churches and church agencies who saw her as a strategic ally in their dealings with Government.
Before the Iraq war, Clare Short arranged for US church leaders to meet with Tony Blair at no. 10 Downing Street. In a fifty minute meeting, the delegation led by Rev Jim Wallis from the Sojourners Community in Washington DC, encouraged by Ms Short, set out proposals for avoiding the war with Iraq.
She also worked closely with aid agencies such as Christian Aid and campaign groups such as the Jubilee 2000 coalition towards cancellation of Third World Debt.
In a surprising statement on Good Friday, the former international development secretary also revealed her theological thinking about the Iraq War.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Ms Short tackled the essentially utilitarian argument that civilian deaths in the war with Iraq were a legitimate price to pay for regime change.
In her resignation letter to Mr Blair, Ms Short said: "As you know, I thought the run-up to the conflict in Iraq was mishandled, but I agreed to stay in the government to help support the reconstruction effort for the people of Iraq."
"I am afraid that the assurances you gave me about the need for a UN mandate to establish a legitimate Iraqi government have been breached."
"The security council resolution that you and Jack [Straw, the foreign secretary] have so secretly negotiated contradicts the assurance I have given in the House of Commons and elsewhere about the legal authority of the occupying powers, and the need for a UN-led process to establish a legitimate Iraqi government. This makes my position impossible."
"I am sad and sorry that it has ended like this," Ms Short concluded.
Ms Short had previously threatened to resign over Iraq before the start of hostilities, promising to quit "if there is not UN authority for military action", and accused Tony Blair of being "extraordinarily reckless" over the issue.
But despite the absence of UN approval for the Anglo-American invasion she decided to stay in the government.
Former Foreign Office minister Baroness Amos has been appointed as Ms Short's successor.