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The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"Speculation continues as to whether Peter Mandelson can ever return to an influential position"
 real 56k

Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon
"He will be a loss to the Labour Party"
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Sinn Fein Chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin
"We will concentrate on moving the peace process forward"
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Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Mandelson
Resignation speech
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Thursday, 25 January, 2001, 04:43 GMT
Blair acts over Mandelson affair
Peter Mandelson
Peter Mandelson: His future is now unclear
Tony Blair has acted swiftly to replace Peter Mandelson as the government looks to recover from his resignation on Tuesday.

Dr John Reid has been named as Northern Ireland secretary and takes over at a critical time in the peace process as intensive talks are under way on ways of breaking the deadlock.

Mr Mandelson resigned after admitting he had made misleading statements over the passport application of controversial Indian billionaire Srichand Hinduja who gave a million pounds to the Millennium Dome.

His departure also leaves a hole in the Labour Party plans for the general election - with Downing Street saying Mr Mandelson will no longer play a key role in the campaign.


I do think it's right that he is given some little time after a very difficult day to decide for himself what his future is

Geoff Hoon
Defence Minister
His resignation sparked a mini-reshuffle on Wednesday evening with Helen Liddell taking over from Dr Reid as Scottish secretary.

She will be replaced as Energy Minister by Peter Hain who is in turn replaced as Foreign Office minister by Brian Wilson.

Mr Blair has already ordered a full investigation into the passport applications of the Hindujah brothers.

The prime minister still insists Mr Mandelson did nothing improper but opposition MPs want to know if any other ministers made representations on the brothers' behalf.

Mr Mandelson's immediate future is unclear.

'No immediate return'

Party activists in his Hartlepool constituency insist that he will continue as their MP, even if he is not involved in front line politics.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said it was impossible to say what Mr Mandelson's next move would be.

"I think his statement indicated that he would not wish for himself to take a front line role in the future," he said.

John Reid
John Reid: Do all I can to make agreement work
"Clearly I do think it's right that he is given some little time after a very difficult day to decide for himself what his future is."

Education Secretary David Blunkett said any kind of immediate return to frontline politics for Mr Mandelson was very difficult.

"I think that we should all be very pleased that he has been big enough to see the problem and above all to recognise that in making that mistake he needed to draw a line so we don't have this clouding people's judgement.

The new Northern Ireland Secretary Dr Reid has arranged to have meetings with the chief constable and the senior Army officer in Northern Ireland on Thursday to bring himself up to speed on the key issues.

"No-one takes this job lightly, but I'm particularly aware of just how significant a moment this is in Northern Ireland transition from conflict to normality," he said.

Mini-reshuffle
Northern Ireland Secretary: Dr John Reid, former Scottish secretary
Scottish Secretary: Helen Liddell, former energy minister
Energy Minister: Peter Hain, former foreign office minister
Foreign Office Minister: Brian Wilson, former Scotland office minister
The British and Irish governments have been having intense negotiations with Northern Ireland parties in an attempt to resolve the issues of police reform, paramilitary decommissioning and demilitarisation, which are threatening to destabilise the province's powersharing institutions.

Mr Reid added that he would do "everything I can" to make the agreement work.

Mr Mandelson's resignation on Wednesday was the second time he had forced to quit the cabinet.

In 1998 he resigned after failing to disclose that he had secretly received a 373,000 loan from his then fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson to buy a house in London.

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
John Reid appointed NI secretary
24 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Mixed NI views on Mandelson resignation
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Blair summons Mandelson
22 Jan 01 | South Asia
Hindujas questioned by detectives
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson hits back in passport row
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson resigns
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