Rebel Redwood `in next Cabinet'

John Redwood re-emerged last night as a prospective healer of the Conservatives' damaging internal divisions in the run-up to the general election.

He is said to be top of the list of Cabinet changes that John Major is expected to make in the summer in a bid to buy off right-wing pressure for tax cuts in the November Budget.

A senior political fixer in the Tory party has convinced the Prime Minister that the time is right to bring his rival for the party leadership back into the government, according to a report in today's People newspaper.

Mr Redwood, it is claimed, would be given the job of Chief Secretary to the Treasury currently held by William Waldegrave, whose star has been waning since he was singled out for criticism in the Scott report on arms to Iraq.

The former Welsh Secretary, who resigned his Cabinet post to fight John Major in the July 1995 leadership contest, last night pointedly refused to rule out rejoining the government.

Referring to reports that Agriculture Minister Douglas Hogg would be sacked for his inept handling of the mad cow disease crisis, and that Mr Waldegrave would replace him, Mr Redwood insisted: "The Prime Minister has said he doesn't throw Christians to the lions.

"He sees no need for a Cabinet reshuffle, and I am very happy to support the Prime Minister in that." Asked if he would reject the offer of a return to senior ministerial office, Mr Redwood repeated: "The Prime Minister has said he is not going to be panicked into a cabinet reshuffle."

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