Smith – who shares the job of briefing lobby journalists every morning with Tom Kelly – said he would leave his job ‘at some point later this year’ and had an ‘open mind’ as to whether to remain in the civil service.
A Downing Street spokesman would only say, ‘announcements will be made at an appropriate time’.
The announcement of Smith’s planned departure coincided with news that Ari Fleischer – White House press secretary and chief spokesman to President Bush – is to quit his role after 21 years in government.
Fleischer is leaving in July to go into the private sector, having acted as President Bush’s spokesman since January 2001.
It is understood deputy press secretary Scott McLellan is front-runner to succeed Fleischer, but the White House is yet to confirm a replacement.
Meanwhile, submissions to the Cabinet Office’s ongoing review of government communications continue.
Former BBC correspondent Nicholas Jones has reiterated his view that all lobby briefings should be televised, a case he claims is ‘attracting growing support’.
Others submitting recommendations include former DTLR communications director Martin Sixsmith.