After securing his place in British history, with a record third successive term as a Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair has been making changes to his cabinet. Before the election there had been speculation in some quarters that the premier might fire his powerful finance minister.
But Gordon Brown is staying put as Chancellor and, amid claims that he actually won the ballot for Blair, many believe it is only a matter of time before he steps into the leader’s shoes. The big foreign and interior ministry portfolios also remain unchanged.
Elsewhere, John Reid swaps health for defence. And David Blunkett has made an early return as Work and Pensions Minister – having resigned as Home Secretary last year amid a scandal.
With his parliamentary majority slashed, the man in the top job meanwhile was keen to give assurances that he has taken note of the message. “The great thing about an election is that you go out and you talk to people for week upon week,” said Blair in Downing Street.
“I have listened and I have learned. And I think I have a very clear idea of what the British people now expect from this government for a third term.” Tough challenges lie ahead for Tony Blair – not least trying to salvage Northern Ireland’s peace deal now that hardliners have gained strength and convincing Britons to approve the new EU constitution.