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Second British Foreign Office minister quits

Britain's Africa minister Mark Simmonds resigned on Monday (Aug 11), a spokesman for the prime minister's Downing Street office said, becoming the second Foreign Office minister to quit in a week.

LONDON: Britain's Africa minister Mark Simmonds resigned on Monday (Aug 11), a spokesman for the prime minister's Downing Street office said, becoming the second Foreign Office minister to quit in a week.

The spokesman insisted that Simmonds' decision was unrelated to that of Sayeeda Warsi, who quit last Tuesday in protest at the government's failure to take a tougher line against Israel over its assault on Gaza. He said Simmonds had agreed to leave "some weeks ago" but the announcement was delayed until the minister had chaired a United Nations Security Council debate on the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday.

In his resignation letter, Simmonds said he was "exceptionally proud" of the government's achievements but said he wanted to spend more time with his family. He intends to step down next year as a member of parliament for Boston and Skegness in Lincolnshire, eastern England, a seat he has held since 2001. He was appointed to the Foreign Office in September 2012, and had responsibility for Africa, Britain's overseas territories, the Caribbean, as well as climate change and international energy.

Warsi, Britain's first Muslim cabinet member who also had responsibility for faith and communities, resigned over what she said was Britain's "morally indefensible" policy on Gaza.