Blair jets out while cabinet colleagues take time off at home

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair may be flying to Barbados as the Westminster village decamps this summer but his less peripatetic cabinet colleagues are venturing no further than Scotland and the near-Continent.

The Blairs will enjoy a rock-star break at Sir Cliff Richard's Caribbean holiday home overlooking the surf breaking on the white beaches of Barbados's Platinum Coast. But his ministers seem more inclined to follow last year's trend of taking at least part of their holidays in Britain when the Cabinet flew the flag for domestic tourism after the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Gordon Brown, whose wife Sarah is heavily pregnant, is abandoning his customary summer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to stay in his native Scotland this summer.

Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, famous for her love of camping, will take to her trusty caravan and head for France after a few days in her Derby constituency. Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, is returning to the West Highlands for a week with her family.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will make the short journey from his Sheffield constituency into the Pennines to visit Derbyshire. He then plans to top up his tan in the south of France. Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport, is also looking forward to a few days in Scotland before heading to an unspecified location on the Continent.

Peter Hain, the Europhile Leader of the Commons, is taking a delayed honeymoon at an undisclosed destination on the Continent. Mr Hain married the businesswoman Elizabeth Haywood, a former Welsh Woman of the Year, last month, but could take only two days out of politics after the ceremony in his south Wales constituency. He has not disclosed the honeymoon destination.

Many cabinet ministers regard their holiday arrangements as private. The Foreign Office was vague about the summer plans of Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, for whom exotic travel is part and parcel of the job. "He is going somewhere in Europe," a spokesman said.

The plans of Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, Baroness Amos, the Secretary of State for International Development, and Andrew Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, were not known. John Prescott's choice also remained a closely guarded state secret. The Deputy Prime Minister is traditionally unadventurous in his travels, often preferring the pleasures of the West Country to the perils of international resorts - a penchant that critics say colours his working itinerary.

The Ministry of Defence also refused to say where Geoff Hoon would spend his summer. The Defence Secretary, at the centre of the furore over the death of the weapons expert David Kelly, was heavily criticised for taking his family on a skiing holiday as war with Iraq loomed.

Also unwilling to reveal his holiday plans is Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's embattled director of communications and strategy. But he is expected to head for the south of France, which has rapidly replaced Tuscany in the affections of New Labour.

Last year, Mr Campbell, and his partner Fiona Millar, Cherie Blair's press secretary, played host to the pollster Philip Gould and his wife, Gail Rebuck, in the Provencal town of Vaison-la-Romaine.

From the other side of the House, Iain Duncan Smith, a keen fly-fisherman, is also joining the migration north of the border. Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, will fly to Spain next month.