'I'm relieved to be out of government' admits Blunkett

Former home secretary tells friends he cannot give his full attention while his private life remains in the headlines
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Indy Politics

David Blunkett is relieved not be in front-line politics at a time when his private life is once again front-page news, he has told friends.

David Blunkett is relieved not be in front-line politics at a time when his private life is once again front-page news, he has told friends.

The former home secretary admits that he could not have given his "full attention" to his brief as his former lover gave birth to a son he believes is his.

The bitter access battle between Mr Blunkett and Kimberly Quinn flared back into life this week days after she gave birth to a second baby boy.

The arrival last Wednesday of a baby, born by Caesarean section at St Mary's Hospital in London to Mr Blunkett's former lover, Kimberly Quinn, filled the front page of The Sun the next day. The day after that, The Sun had a document that could only have come from the Quinns or someone very close to them. It was a copy of the child's birth certificate.

It revealed that, with the child less than 48 hours old, Stephen Quinn, Kimberly's husband, had registered the birth, putting himself down as the father - in what looks like a deliberate throwing down of the gauntlet to the former home secretary.

Mr Quinn had a vasectomy before his marriage to The Spectator's publisher, then sought to have it reversed.

The child, named Lorcan, was conceived while Mrs Quinn was having an affair with Mr Blunkett, which she ended last August.

If Mr Blunkett wants to have any part in baby Lorcan's future, he will now have to go back to the family court and seek a DNA test to establish paternity. A similar test on Mrs Quinn's older son, now aged two, established that Mr Blunkett was his father.

Last week, for the first time since the shattering experience of his forced resignation, Mr Blunkett was telling friends that he was relieved to be out of the Government.

There is a vast amount of high-pressure party politics centred on the Home Office this week. The Government's announcement on asylum and immigration tomorrow; Michael Howard's new policy on crime and sentencing; the continuing controversy over the Belmarsh detainees; and the return of the identity cards Bill to the Commons - all these issues would have been the responsibility of Mr Blunkett had he not been forced to resign just before Christmas over that business about a nanny.

He has privately admitted that it is better this way, because he could not have given his full attention to politics in a week when he could not prevent his private life from grabbing the headlines again.

Mr Blunkett, however, is known to be planning a gradual return to front-line politics, beginning with some low-key visits in his Sheffield Brightside constituency later this month. He is expected to follow that with a couple of big speeches in March, defending the Government's record in the run-up to an election.

Talk of him returning to the Cabinet after the election is premature. Having run two of the biggest and trickiest government departments, and before that Sheffield council when he was younger, Mr Blunkett is unlikely to be tempted by a down-table cabinet role.

However, it is rumoured that he might be interested in taking over the job Alan Milburn now has, assuming that Mr Milburn moves on after the election.

He has also been socialising with fellow MPs a great deal inside the Commons, to rebuild old political alliances.

Meanwhile, his attention over the next few days will be focused on a matter that he will not discuss in public, but which it has become impossible to keep private.

If the arrival of the baby was not enough to keep the affair in the public eye, there is also David Blunkett - The Musical, which is being hastily put together to be previewed at London's Soho Theatre in April and which will later run at the Edinburgh Festival.

"What we are looking at is Noises Off meets Round The Horne meets Jerry Springer - that sort of thing," the show's producer, Martin Witts, explained.

The production will feature four key characters: Mr Blunkett, his former lover, and the widely assumed to be adulterous couple who first brought them together - Boris Johnson, the Tory MP and editor of The Spectator, and Petronella Wyatt, the journalist.

The show has been put together jointly by Mr Witts, who notched up a success in London's West End with a biopic about the snooker player Alex Higgins; The Times journalist Ginny Dougary; and a previously unknown New York songwriter, a middle-aged woman who styles herself as MJ.

Songs have been written for three of the key characters.

From the fictitious Mr Blunkett's mouth issue the words: "I don't mind/I may be blind/But I can see/How inspiring it is to be me."

Kimberly Quinn's lines include: "I'm a consummate operator/A shit-hot communicator/Let's have a lunch date/When are you free?"

And from Petronella Wyatt: "It's not that I don't know/How to make a living/My stint at the Torygraph/Was more fun than sinning."

In fact, Mr Blunkett was keeping such a low profile last week that more people saw his stage version than the real thing.