The editor of Alan Milburn’s local newspaper, The Northern Echo, was among the first to know that the Health Secretary was to resign.
Milburn rang Peter Barron at 8.30am on Thursday last week to tell him he had decided to quit. The news was officially announced three hours later.
Barron said: “Mr Milburn was very calm but sounded subdued. He just said: ‘There are no skeletons in the cupboard – it’s just down to the fact that I’m not seeing my kids.’
“He went on to say that the ‘mad life’ he was living was making him a ‘deeply unhappy man’.”
Barron, who has children the same age as Milburn’s two sons, has had a number of discussions with the minister about the difficulties of balancing work and home life.
“Although I was shocked that he has decided to leave the Government, I can understand his reasons for doing so,” he said.
Northern Echo political editor Chris Lloyd had an exclusive half-hour interview with Milburn in which he talked in more detail about his family. The splash headline was “Missing my boys grow was killing me”, with three pages of reaction and analysis inside.