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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...