» Friday, May 5, 2006

Reshuffle Questions

Asked about the Deputy Prime Minister’s salary, and if it would decrease in light of his responsibilities, the PMOS replied that he disagreed with the description in that Mr. Prescott would be taking on, as he already had, a heavy workload in terms of chairing Cabinet Committees. That would become even heavier, and this would therefore be full recognition of that.

Asked to confirm that Mr. Prescott would keep his current salary, the grace and favour apartment, Dorneywood, the cars etc, the PMOS said that in recognition of the vital work that Mr. Prescott would do in chairing Cabinet Committees, in keeping his international work, and also, he would work with agencies in the environment in developing the post-Kyoto agenda.

Asked if Mr. Prescott had offered to resign, the PMOS said: no.

Asked if that meant he had therefore been removed from his office or demoted, the PMOS said that Mr. Prescott had not been demoted, as he remained the Deputy Prime Minister. As Mr. Prescott had discussed with the Prime Minister for twelve months, he had given up the departmental responsibilities in order to focus on his work on chairing Cabinet committees.

Asked if Geoff Hoon had been allowed to keep his salary as a Cabinet Minister, the PMOS replied that it was a Minister for State role as it was for Douglas Alexander, and Mr. Hoon was a former MEP, and had very strong links with Europe, and therefore, it was a natural role for him to play.

Asked why Jack Straw was moved, and Margaret Beckett promoted, the PMOS replied that with regards to Margaret Beckett, and to Dr. Reid, they were very experienced Ministers who in Margaret Beckett’s case had a lot of experience in foreign negotiations because of DEFRA and climate change. The PMOS said that John Reid had proved his ability in a number of posts throughout Government. In terms of Jack Straw, he had always made clear that after the experiences he had had, this was the kind of role that he wanted, and Mr. Straw was, as people knew, very dedicated to the House of Commons. The PMOS said again that Jack Straw was the "quintessential House of Commons man".

Asked if that meant Jack Straw had wanted to give up the Foreign Secretary job at this time, however, the PMOS replied that as always, it was the Prime Minister who decided, and Jack Straw was delighted to take on the role of being Leader of the House as well as being responsible for the House of Lords reform and party funding. It was an issue and an agenda which had gone up everyone’s agenda as recent events had shown. Again, it was an experienced pair of hands in a very vital role at an important time.

Asked about Charles Clarke’s potential other jobs he may have been offered before resigning, and also, had Mr. Clarke offered to resign last week, the PMOS replied that he had nothing to add to what he had said on several occasions about Mr. Clarke resigning. In terms of other jobs, people had seen Mr. Clarke’s statement, and he had been offered other jobs, and the Prime Minister fully understood why Mr. Clarke had chosen to take the course of action that he had done. The Prime Minister had set out in his statement the reasons why he believed it was right for him to move from the Home Office, and the PMOS said that he had nothing to add to that.

Asked why Mr. Clarke had gone through ten days of "ghastly" headlines if he was always planning to resign, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had been thinking about this reshuffle since David Blunkett had left office. Therefore, it was better to deal with the changes in Government as a whole, and to deal, as Charles Clarke did, with the immediate problems that we had in the Home Office. That we did. Equally, however, the Prime Minister had set out why in the immediate future, it was important for a change at the Home Office to drive through the next stage of reforms there.

Asked if the Prime Minister was telling the truth at PMQs on Wednesday when asked about Charles Clarke, the PMOS replied that as the Prime Minister made clear in his response to Mr. Clarke, believed that Charles Clarke was a very able person who the Prime Minister wished had taken another Cabinet post, and that was therefore how highly the Prime Minister thought of Mr. Clarke. Charles Clarke, for his own reasons, decided to go to the backbenches for the reasons he had set out. The Prime Minister continued to have the highest regard to Mr. Clarke.

Asked further about Mr. Clarke, the PMOS said the Prime Minister had taken his decision after reflecting on the overall impact of dealing with the problem of foreign prisoners, as the Prime Minister had set out in his statement.

Asked what had changed since Wednesday, the PMOS said whenever people were dealing with a problem such as foreign prisoners, it was necessary to continually think about how to respond to that problem. The Prime Minister had set this out clearly in his statement and that was what had shaped his thinking about Mr. Clarke.

Asked what could be said to voters who asked why they should believe anything the Prime Minister said, the PMOS replied that as the BBC reported on a daily basis, events prevented things from standing still. Therefore, people had to respond to events as they changed, and snap judgements were not taken. That was what intelligent government was about.

Asked to confirm that Mr. Clarke was leaving Government, the PMOS said that he was.

Asked if Mr. Clarke was the only person leaving Government, the PMOS said he was the only one from Cabinet, as Ian McCartney was going to a different job.

Asked again to confirm that John Prescott would keep his "perks" and his Cabinet salary, the PMOS said that Mr. Prescott’s position remained unchanged.

Asked if it was appropriate that John Reid had received the Home Office job, as he was Scottish, the PMOS replied that we were one country, i.e. the United Kingdom.

Asked why did the Prime Minister think Hilary Armstrong would be good as Minister for Social Exclusion, the PMOS replied that she had dealt with this issue before her post as Chief Whip. She also had a passionate interest in this area.

Asked with reference to foreign policy if there would be any change in Margaret Beckett’s stance towards Iran, the PMOS replied that we had a Government position on Iran, and that would remain. The outlines of Government and foreign policy would remain as they were, but Margaret Beckett would take them forward.

Asked if it was inconceivable that there would be military action against Iran, the PMOS said that both the Prime Minister and President Bush had said no-one was talking about military action.

Asked if after Charles Clarke had turned down the defence role, he was offered the FCO post, the PMOS said that he was not going to get into commenting on rumours and speculation.

Asked what the Prime Minister would say his intention was with regards to staying in Downing Street by appointing Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith who were well-known Blairites, the PMOS said that the important thing was what their track records were. With regards to Hazel Blears, she had shown her talent at the Home Office in a very highly pressurised job, and she was a very energetic person. If people looked at Jacqui Smith’s performance on the Education Bill, she was outstanding as School’s Minister, and she had been Minister of State in two other departments as well.

Asked why they were both put in those specific jobs which were very clear party political jobs, the PMOS said he was not going to get into the party political aspect of the question, but he said that they were two people who had proven their ability and their merits.

Asked what this reshuffle showed about the Prime Minister’s long-term intentions, the PMOS replied that what today showed was the Prime Minister’s intention to have experienced, capable people at the top of Government while bringing on new talent, as well as creating new posts which reflected the Government’s priorities. The PMOS said that would be reflected further in the junior appointments.

Asked if Margaret Beckett would be able to walk into the middle of complex international negotiations on Iran etc, the PMOS said that anyone who had dealt with issues such as the climate change negotiations, which were detailed and intricate in the extreme, was highly capable of walking into the Foreign Secretary’s job.

Asked if Margaret Beckett would do to French farmers what she had done for British ones, the PMOS replied that the Foreign Secretary would carry out her role in her own distinctive way.

Asked if there were now two Ministers of State without Portfolio, as John Prescott did not have a proper job now, the PMOS replied that all the question showed was the journalist’s ignorance about the importance of Government, and chairing Cabinet committees was one of the most important roles within Government.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news


  1. Blair needs to keep Prescott sweet to fend-off the BIG SULK until he’s ready to go.

    Comment by Mr Pooter — 5 May 2006 on 6:59 pm | Link
  2. OK PMOS. Let’s see the new and old job descriptions for Mr Prescott and decide for ourselves, eh?

    As for the rest, well there’s real talent amongst that lot, isn’t there? But the real question is what do they actually have a talent for? Apart from toadying, of course.

    And if Brillo Pad Beckett is going to deal with the Middle East as she has with the UK we might as well run up the white flag right now.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 6 May 2006 on 7:58 pm | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


May 2006
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Apr   Jun »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh