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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine