Prescott tries to have the last word on the reshuffle

JOHN PRESCOTT yesterday admitted that he fought to keep Alan Meale as a junior minister in his Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), but that he was over-ruled by Tony Blair.

The Deputy Prime Minister publicly defied Mr Blair when he publicly expressed regret at the sacking of one of his closest aides in last week's ministerial reshuffle.

"I'm sad that Alan Meale's gone, he was a good minister, he did an awful lot for the reform of the waterways and changes in the department," Mr Prescott told BBC Radio 4. "But let's make clear - Prime Ministers make changes, they're responsible for Government."

Although Mr Prescott's tone was conciliatory, his defence of Mr Meale will be seen as criticism of Mr Blair, who moved four of the eight ministers at the DETR in an attempt to sharpen up its performance on transport.

Mr Prescott confirmed a report in The Independent last Friday that part of his Whitehall empire could be hived off into a new rural affairs ministry. He insisted he did not oppose the idea, expected in a White Paper on the countryside at the turn of the year.

"This isn't the first time this has surfaced," he said. "I have never set my mind against any kind of reflection and judgement to see how you can get better Government.''

Mr Prescott also confirmed he would be giving up a "hands-on campaigning role for the Labour party", saying he had suggested the move to Mr Blair eight or nine months ago.

However, Mr Prescott will head a summer campaign aimed at exposing the Tories as an "extremist sect". Labour will publish a series of reports on Tory extremism, in a dossier dubbed the "X files."

Mr Blair has written to all his ministers, urging them to throw their weight behind the campaign to highlight the dividing lines between Labour and the Tories.

Aides say he hopes last week's reshuffle will make the Government "more effective politically as well as administratively."

Mr Prescott said last night: "After just over two years, the Government already has a record of real achievements. In contrast, the Tories are floundering in opposition. They get more and more extreme with every policy they produce."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence