Brown plans cabinet reshuffle as ministers told to cut short holiday

Gordon Brown is planning to reshuffle the Cabinet in the first week of September in an attempt to re-assert his authority over his divided government.

All ministers are being told by Downing Street to return from holiday early next month. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has already cancelled a visit provisionally arranged for that time.

The Prime Minister's instruction to be in London signals that a wide-ranging ministerial reshuffle is likely as early as 1 or 2 September. It would be followed by a meeting of the Cabinet where the new ministers hammer out a series of policy initiatives designed to win back disillusioned voters.

All eyes will be on Mr Miliband's fate in the reshuffle after he infuriated Downing Street this week by implicitly staking his claim for the top job.

The Foreign Secretary will not be sacked in the next reshuffle and some advisers are urging the Prime Minister to "lock" Mr Miliband into his top team by making him Chancellor of the Exchequer. Alistair Darling, who has endured a torrid year in the post, could swap jobs with him and move to the Foreign Office. One party source said: "If David is so interested in the domestic agenda and attacking the Tories, then this is the perfect job for him."

Mr Brown is also considering creating a post of deputy prime minister with Alan Johnson, the Secretary of State for Health, another potential leadership rival, likely to be given the job.

The Prime Minister is planning to elevate a number of ministers of state to the cabinet table. Front-runners for promotion include Liam Byrne, the Immigration minister, Caroline Flint, the Housing minister, Jim Knight, the Schools minister, and Pat McFadden, the Employment Relations minister.

Current cabinet members who could be vulnerable include Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, the Chief Whip, and Paul Murphy, the Welsh Secretary.

A cabinet away-day at Chequers is being considered for 5 September, a week before the original planned date for the first post-summer cabinet meeting. The new top team will use the occasion to plot Labour's fight-back.

Possible policy initiatives include a windfall tax on the excessive profits of energy companies and extra help for low-paid people who lost out from the abolition of the 10p income tax rate.

Mr Brown is preparing a frenzy of activity next month to see off any potential attempt by Labour dissidents to remove him. He will also be under pressure to deliver the speech of his life at the Labour conference on 23 September. Leading Labour officials are desperate for a period of calm in the party during August following the turmoil triggered by last week's disastrous Labour performance in the Glasgow East by-election.

However, John Hutton, the Business Secretary, hinted at disquiet in the Cabinet over Mr Brown's leadership yesterday when he warned the Government was "not doing well enough". He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have got to stop sounding miserable about ourselves and sounding as if we have been treated unfairly. We have not been treated unfairly. We are not doing well enough and that's what the voters have said." Asked about the Prime Minister's performance, he did not initially name Mr Brown and only when pressed did he maintain that Labour could win under his leadership.

Three in and three out?

Pat McFadden

The Employment Relations minister is a crucial and influential Labour fixer who has moved from Tony Blair's side to Gordon Brown's. He accompanied Brown throughout the meeting of Labour policy forum after last week's Glasgow East by-election crisis.

Liam Byrne

Initially viewed as a Blairite, the cerebral Immigration minister has won admirers in the Brown team for his work in overhauling the immigration system and removing some of the political poison from the issue.

Caroline Flint

Already attends the Cabinet as Housing minister but favourite to gain a full cabinet seat in her own right. Seen as a persuasive television performer. Could become Health Secretary if Alan Johnson is made DPM.

Des Browne

The Defence Secretary, who has struggled to make a mark in his current job, could fall victim to some Brownites' determination to reduce the number of Scots in the Cabinet in order to help win over voters in Middle England.

Geoff Hoon

A political survivor, the Chief Whip has faced criticism for not having done a good job of containing the summer in-fighting among Labour MPs, while his deputy, Nick Brown, is viewed by some in members in Parliament as "the real Chief Whip".

Paul Murphy

The Welsh Secretary and former Northern Ireland Secretary has had a distinguished government career. But the 59-year-old could be ruthlessly axed if Brown wants to bring in younger faces to his cabinet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own