Blair uses reshuffle to put own stamp on Shadow Cabinet: Brown stays as shadow Chancellor - Cook takes foreign affairs - Straw is shadow Home Secretary - Beckett moves to health

TONY BLAIR last night shuffled almost the whole of his top team, providing Labour with new faces in new jobs and setting his own stamp on the Shadow Cabinet.

Among the senior posts, only Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, stayed in place. Robin Cook, who had wanted to stay in an economic portfolio, was moved to shadow Foreign Secretary, with Jack Cunningham swapped back the other way to take Mr Cook's trade and industry post.

Harriet Harman, the shadow Chief Secretary, was promoted to shadow Employment Secretary, the post vacated by John Prescott when he became deputy leader - a job which means she again faces Michael Portillo, who moved from Chief Secretary to Secretary of State for Employment in July's Cabinet reshuffle.

The moves ease a source of friction over economic policy, where Mr Cook's differing economic stance from Mr Brown was compounded by a tense personal relationship between the two. The Brown-Blair grip on economic policy was expected to be tightened further by the appointment of Andrew Smith, the Oxford East MP, who did not even stand for the Shadow Cabinet, as shadow Chief Secretary, leap-frogging up the Treasury team over both Alistair Darling and Nick Brown.

However, Mr Cook will retain an economic voice. Mr Blair's office made it clear that he, Mr Prescott and Mr Brown would work together closely on Europe and the post-Maastricht debates about a single currency, while Mr Cook would join the other two and Mr Blair in a new four-strong economic sub-committee of the Shadow Cabinet.

A further sign of Mr Blair's determination to place the people he wanted in the jobs he wanted them in, came with his treatment of Margaret Beckett, the former deputy leader, who was given the Health portfolio.

After her performance as acting leader and her powerful showing in the Shadow Cabinet elections where she came second to Mr Cook with 170 votes, Mrs Beckett's friends believed she was entitled to a top-rank job - ideally the shadow Home Secretary post Mr Blair vacated on becoming leader.

That, however, went to Jack Straw, the former environment spokesman and Mr Blair's campaign manager for the leadership. Mrs Beckett's supporters were mollified by the high-profile nature of the health job, Mr Blair making it clear he wanted policy developed. Critics of David Blunkett, the former health spokesman, feel he did too little to adapt Labour's policy to the realities of the NHS changes.

Mr Blunkett swaps health for the key Education portfolio where his robust views about standards are expected to reflect those of Mr Blair. Ann Taylor, who was judged to have disappointed at the education job, becomes shadow Leader of the House, taking in addition, the Citizen's Charter portfolio.

Mr Blair has ended Kevin McNamara's seven-year stint as Northern Ireland spokesman from outside the Shadow Cabinet, giving the job to Mo Mowlam, a junior Northern Ireland spokesman between 1988 and 1989. The move is likely to be welcomed by Ulster's Unionist MPs who have long distrusted Mr McNamara's firm advocacy of a united Ireland.

Michael Meacher will gain a higher profile as he moves from Citizen's Charter to Transport, replacing Frank Dobson who moves from Transport to a reunited Local Government and Environment portfolio. Chris Smith moves from the 'green' part of environment to National Heritage, taking a special responsibility for information superhighways.

Joan Lestor was granted her wish to move from children to Overseas Development, while Gavin Strang retains Agriculture, but within the Shadow Cabinet. Donald Dewar (Social Security), George Robertson (Scotland), David Clark (Defence) and Ron Davies (Wales) retain their portfolios.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral