Key UK Labour official quits as economic spokesman

The opposition Labour Party's economics spokesman said Thursday he is stepping down for personal reasons, prompting an unexpected reshuffle in the party's leadership.

Alan Johnson, the most experienced member in Labour leader Ed Miliband's team, said he could not cope with issues facing his family while in the role.

Johnson, 60, was appointed to the key role in October. He had served in five different senior roles under former Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but he has faced repeated questions about his suitability for the role of shadow chancellor because he did not have an economics background.

Miliband said he accepted the resignation with regret, and denied allegations that Johnson quit because he was not the right man for the job.

"He's had to stand down for personal reasons, nothing to do with the job," Miliband said.

Ed Balls, Labour's home affairs spokesman, will take over Johnson's role as shadow chancellor. Johnson will remain as a Labour Party lawmaker.