Cabinet role for party chief

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There was speculation last night that Tony Blair is set to create a powerful new post within the Cabinet for a party spokesperson.

Reports said that the key politician, who would speak on behalf all departments, would also be an important link between the Cabinet and the Labour Party.

The post, which might be created in a Cabinet reshuffle this summer, could go to Peter Mandelson, minister without portfolio, who is not yet a member of the Cabinet. He is already responsible for co-ordinating the presentation of policy and is highly thought of by Mr Blair. Other contenders include Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Alistair Darling, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, reports said.