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Saturday, 6 May 2006
CLARKE SACKED – REFUSES OTHER JOB
One of the most senior figures in government, an unwilling Charles Clarke was yesterday sacked as home secretary in the biggest cabinet reshuffle of prime minister Blair’s terms of office since 1997.
|Protest against ID cards outside the House of Commons _ one of the police state measures that Clarke was pushing through
Clarke refused offers of other Cabinet posts, deciding instead to return to the backbenches.
In a statement, Clarke said he left office ‘with deep regret’.
He added he had wanted to see through the issue of ‘how to deal with foreign national prisoners – for which I have taken overall responsibility’, and ‘staked my reputation’.
Clarke continued: ‘The prime minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the judgement that my continued occupation of the post of home secretary is likely to stand in the way of the continued reforms which remain necessary and though I do not agree with that judgement, I entirely accept his right to make it.
‘However, I do not think it would be appropriate to remain in government in these circumstances so I shall return to the backbenches, where I will be a strong and active supporter of this government and the leadership of Tony Blair for his full parliamentary term.’
Blair said he was ‘sorry’ to see Clarke go, but ‘I felt that it was very difficult, given the level of genuine public concern, for Charles to continue in this post.’
Clarke will be replaced by Defence Secretary John Reid.
The second most senior minister in government, John Prescott, keeps his post as Deputy Prime Minister but has been removed from running any department.
It would seem Blair doesn’t want a deputy leadership election as this could result in a referendum on his leadership of the party.
Prescott’s department has been handed to Education Secretary Ruth Kelly, who now becomes Local Government Secretary.
Kelly has been replaced as Education Secretary by Trade and Industry Secretary, and former CWU leader, Alan Johnson.
Jack Straw has also been demoted to become Leader of the House of Commons.
Margaret Beckett is the new Foreign Secretary, with Geoff Hoon taking up the new post of Europe Minister.
Douglas Alexander has been elevated to replace Alistair Darling as Transport Secretary and Secretary of State for Scotland, while Darling takes over from Johnson as Trade and Industry Secretary.
Arch-Blairite David Miliband also gets promotion to become Environment Secretary, while ‘Brownite’ Des Brown is made Defence Secretary.
Home Office Minister Hazel Blears becomes new Party Chairman and Schools Minister Jacqui Smith gets the job of Chief Whip.
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