British Prime Minister Tony Blair has overhauled
his cabinet after his ruling Labor Party suffered big
losses in local elections across England.
Mr. Blair's government is facing one of its
biggest challenges in the aftermath of local elections that saw a surge in
support for the opposition Conservative Party.
The Treasury chief and heir
apparent to the prime minister, Gordon
Brown, has told British radio the elections are a wake up call for the
scandal-shaken Labor Party to renew itself and regain public
"I think there is always a danger when a party has been in
power for nine years, and this is the warning shot that we have got to
address," said Brown.
Prime Minister Blair began reshuffling his cabinet just hours after the
elections results came in, removing his ministers for law-and-order,
defense and foreign affairs.
The first to go was Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who was battered by
recent revelations that his department had freed more than a 1,000 foreign
convicts who should have faced deportation hearings.
Clarke says he is returning to a back-bench seat in the House of
"The prime minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the
judgment that my continued occupation of the post of home secretary is
likely to stand in the way of the continued reforms which remain
necessary," he said. "I do not think it would be appropriate to remain in
government in these circumstances."
The new home secretary is John Reid, who had been defense minister. Des
Brown is replacing Reid in that job.
In the other major change, Jack Straw has been demoted from foreign
secretary to leader of the House of Commons. The new Foreign Secretary is
The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, has
scoffed at the
"I don't think this reshuffle will be enough," he said. "What we need
in this country is not a reshuffle of the government; we need a
replacement to the government."
The local elections saw the Conservatives' share of the vote rise to 40
percent, its best performance since 1992. Labor, and Britain's third
party, the Liberal Democrats, each took about one quarter of the votes.