Blair vetoes job for Davies

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TONY BLAIR has personally vetoed Ron Davies from being given a high-ranking post in the new Welsh Assembly, it emerged last night.

The former Welsh Secretary and MP for Caerphilly has been selected to stand in May's assembly elections, but his replacement, Alun Michael, will not be allowed to offer him a seat in any ruling "cabinet". The decision is understood to have stemmed from anxiety in Downing Street that voters would react badly to such a rapid political rehabilitation.

It is five months since Mr Davies quit the Cabinet after a "moment of madness" on London's Clapham Common, when he agreed to an assignation with a stranger before being robbed at knifepoint.

It is understood Downing Street tried twice to dissuade him from standing for the assembly, but he defied the pressure. His supporters claim Welsh voters do not believe the incident had damaged him permanently. They also believe he has enough support among assembly candidates to be elected First Secretary of Wales if Mr Michael should fail to win his top-up seat in the proportional elections.

However, Mr Michael, who yesterday confirmed for the first time that he would resign his Westminster seat at the next general election, may offer a post to Rhodri Morgan. He said "the inevitable conclusion" of his decision to stand for the Welsh Assembly was that he would not seek re-election for his Cardiff South and Penarth parliamentary seat. A meeting between Mr Morgan, who was narrowly defeated for the leadership of the Wales Labour Party, and Mr Michael will take place this week.

Their discussions are aimed at working out how the party can capitalise on Mr Morgan's popularity with the public in the campaign to help it win outright control of the assembly. Trade- union block votes meant Mr Morgan lost the leadership contest by a margin of just over 5 per cent.