Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Insider: Hoon Hangs on, Labour Faces More Resignations, and the Mystery of a Death Warrant

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Insider: Hoon Hangs on, Labour Faces More Resignations, and the Mystery of a Death Warrant

Article excerpt

The long-awaited post-Hutton cabinet reshuffle is another victim of Tony Blair's screeching handbrake turn on Europe. Geoff "Buff" Hoon has proved immovable at Defence, presumably because he knows too much to be sent to the back benches. He is telling anyone who wants to listen (and plenty who don't) that he is not interested in being a European commissioner, wants to stay in cabinet but might be interested in a promotion. To what? Trade and Industry would be beneath him, likewise Environment. If we are lucky, he will overreach himself, but MPs fear we shall not know until after the London/Euro/council elections on 10 June. Blair cannot rejig his government before that date, they argue.

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Just to add to what you already know. Charlie Kennedy rang Breakfast With Frost to deny he would step down as Lib Dem leader. Quite so. His MPs were then told by pager: "Any further comments would be unhelpful." Which explains the lack of reticence from Simon Hughes, the wannabe everything.

To the Gay Hussar for an entertaining lunch with Francis Beckett, NS contributor and co-author with David Hencke of a forthcoming biography of Tony Blair. Thankfully, this effort will not be quite so gushing as John Rentoul's offering and embarrassing revelations are promised. The book will be serialised in the autumn in the Guardian (Hencke's paper), for a fraction of the sum offered by the Daily Mail, on the direct orders of the editor, Alan Rusbridger. …

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