Robinson is `ready to go'

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GEOFFREY ROBINSON'S ministerial future looked increasingly uncertain last night as the embattled Paymaster-General faced renewed criticism about his performance. Rumours were circulating that Mr Robinson might quietly resign over the Christmas break, citing ill-health as a reason.

An air of farce existed as Treasury spokesmen were forced to rebut suggestions that the minister had advertised his services in Yellow Pages as a political consultant. The insert turned out to be a mistake, but it added to a pervading sense that Mr Robinson could not survive. Some sources suggested the minister's performance at the Treasury had been affected by publicity about his business interests.

A further report yesterday suggested Mr Robinson had been stripped of responsibilities on tax because of adverse publicity about his pounds 12m offshore trust. He was forced to apologise to the House of Commons last month for failing to register company directorships.