Friday, 3 October 2008

Mandy is back

Peter Mandelson will make return to the Cabinet in a major reshuffle to be unveiled by Gordon Brown later today. The European Commissioner for Trade will be made a peer and join the Government as Secretary for Business, sitting in the Lords. John Hutton, the current Business Secretary, will be promoted to Defence Secretary, taking over from Des Browne, who will leave the Cabinet.

This is a very surprising move and marks the apparent end of tensions between Mandy and Gordon, although at one time they were firm friends. Peter Mandelson was forced to resign from the Cabinet twice, but Gordon Brown may think that his undoubted political skills will be of help to him in the run-up to the general election.

In other moves, Geoff Hoon, the Chief Whip, takes over at Transport from Ruth Kelly, who announced last week that she wants to spend more time with her family. Mr Hoon will be replaced by the Brownite fixer and former Chief Whip, Nick Brown. The other Cabinet entrant is Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, who will become Mr Brown's enforcer as Cabinet Office minister.

Peter Mandelson will be coming to a diminished Business department as its energy functions will be transferred to a new Department of Energy and Climate Change headed by Ed Miliband. This will also acquire the climate change function from a diminished Defra which looks more like a MAFF Mark II responsible for food and rural affairs.

Margaret Beckett looks likely to return to the Cabinet - in what role is unclear, but possibly as a spokesperson for the government.

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