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Denmark's government rocked by double minister resignation

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Denmark's government rocked by double minister resignation
Outgoing ministers Esben Lunde Larsen (L) and Søren Pind. Composite: Sarah Christine Nørgaard, Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
10:10 CEST+02:00
Two high-profile ministers in Denmark’s government resigned within hours of each other on Tuesday afternoon.

Minister for Education and Research Søren Pind and Minister for Food and the Environment Esben Lunde Larsen both announced that they would step down from their ministerial positions and leave Danish politics.

“I feel empty. I have fought with every fibre in my body for what I believed all these years. I’ve spent huge amounts of energy on it, and I no longer have the hunger,” Pind told newspaper Berlingske.

The minister also confirmed he had considered a Liberal party leadership bid in the past.

“I am very sure that, if [current prime minister] Lars [Løkke Rasmussen] had gone in 2011 [after losing that year’s general election, ed.], I would have put myself forward. I’d certainly have done that, and there was also support for it. But that was then. Everything is about timing,” Pind told Berlingske.

Larsen’s ministerial career has been chequered by a number of controversies, including over claims he made misleading statements about his qualifications and his role in the ‘quota kings’ fisheries scandal that almost cost him his job in 2017.

The food and environment minister said he would not run for re-election after almost 13 years in politics.

“I have therefore made my ministerial position available, so the Prime Minister can pick a team that will lead the Liberal party – and the government – to victory at the next election. I will therefore now leave the government and continue my work in parliament for the time being,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

In a statement, PM Rasmussen confirmed the two departures.

“Søren Pind and Esben Lunde Larsen have contributed greatly in parliament, the government and the Liberal party for many years. They have worked hard for our country, and for that I owe them a huge thank you,” Rasmussen wrote.

The Prime Minister’s Office also confirmed that replacements for the two outgoing ministers would be presented to the Queen at 11am on Wednesday, with official changeovers at ministries taking place Wednesday afternoon.

While the resignations are expected to spark a ministerial reshuffle, Pind’s deputy in parliament has been announced as Martin Geertsen, Politiken reports.

Geertsen, a former MP who lost his seat in the 2015 general election, was elected to regional representation in last year’s local elections.

READ ALSO: Denmark's government wants you to exercise more

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