Communities secretary Hazel Blears MP is stepping down from the cabinet.

Blears joins a host of other top-flight MPs to step down in the last few days ahead of the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle which is expected to bring about a raft of changes following the long-running parliamentary expenses scandal.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith has also resigned her post.

Blears said: ‘Today I have told the prime minister that I am resigning from the government.

'In this next phase of my political life I am redoubling my efforts to speak up for the people of Salford as their Member of Parliament. I am returning to the grassroots (where I began), to political activism, to the cut and thrust of political debate.

'Finally, there's an important set of elections tomorrow. My message is simple: get out and vote Labour.’

Former home secretary David Blunkett has been rumoured as a possible replacement for Blears.