Brown gets down to business

Having waited 10 years to get his hands on the keys to Number 10 (we can't help wondering whether Tony and Cherie left so much as a single light bulb or a bar of soap behind them), Gordon Brown has wasted no time in setting out his Prime Ministerial stall. In one of the biggest cabinet shake-ups in recent memory, out go friends of Tony including Patricia Hewitt, Tessa Jowell and Margaret Beckett and in come, well, the friends of Gordon of course.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Alan Johnson replaces Hewitt at health - here at MT we will miss her patronising delivery only slightly more than all those junior doctors who are still looking for jobs. New bug James Purnell - a youngster at only 37 - gets Jowell's old job at DCMS, and David Miliband's star continues to rise - he takes over as foreign secretary. A huge relief for all of us who felt that Margaret Beckett's caravan holidays in Brittany didn't really equip her adequately for the shark-tank of international diplomacy. John Hutton gets the newly created role of minister for business and enterprise, rising from the partially-reprived ashes of the DTI.

And just as we were beginning to worry that the new cabinet would be a rather male-dominated bastion, the surprise news emerged that Jacqui Smith was to be the nation's first female Home Secretary. Widely regarded as the most thankless task in government, the Home Office has wrecked many a heavyweight political career and is a very tough task for one who, like Smith, has never held office before. Good luck - you'll need it.

As a footnote, those who were hoping that Gordon might close at least some of the tax loopholes which have been exploited so profitably by private equity may be in for a disappointment. Along with Alan Sugar (why?), Permira boss Damon Buffini is one of the members of his new advisory panel, the Business Council for Britain - an unlikely choice were Brown about to cut his industry off at the knees…

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