Reshuffle headaches gave Blair a bumpy ride

Tony Blair wanted Alan Johnson and Patricia Hewitt to do a job-swap in last week’s reshuffle – moving to the DTI and the DWP respectively – but had to change his mind after ministers intervened, according to Whitehall sources.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, Blair’s original plan was to give Blunkett the job as communities and local government minister, but deputy prime minister John Prescott intervened, as he would have lost some responsibility.

Having defended his patch on Friday, Prescott left Blair with a headache. “Much of the day was taken up with having to find a significant job for Blunkett which he would be happy with,” one source told the paper.

Eventually, Blair decided to move Blunkett to the Department for Work and Pensions, a job he had earmarked for Hewitt.

Blair’s original plan had been to do a job swap between Hewitt and Johnson. This was now impossible so Johnson was made secretary of state at the rebranded DTI, now called the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry.

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