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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Blair's war team
President George Bush and prime minister Tony Blair
Both Blair and Bush rely on a handful of key advisers
Nick Assinder

Tony Blair's war cabinet will meet formally throughout the conflict.

It will include a handful of the most senior ministers but will also include officials who will be crucial in offering the prime minister advice during the unfolding crisis.

The war cabinet comprises:

The prime minister, deputy prime minister John Prescott - who will chair it in Mr Blair's absence - foreign secretary Jack Straw, defence secretary Geoff Hoon, Chancellor Gordon Brown, Home Secretary David Blunkett, leader of the House Robin Cook and international development secretary Clare Short.

The key officials, will include:

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce

The chief of the defence staff is Tony Blair's most important military adviser.

Unlike his predecessor General Sir Charles Guthrie, he is not overtly political.

He is, however, believed to have reservations about US plans for a national missile defence system.

Chief of the general staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce
Boyce has open access to Blair
He will be giving the prime minister detailed assessments of the military options, their likely success and the likely fallout.

He has direct access to the prime minister and will currently be talking to him on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Alastair Campbell

Also known as the real deputy prime minister, Downing Street communications chief Campbell is undoubtedly the prime minister's most trusted adviser.

Their relationship is so close that observers often wonder who pulls whose strings.

Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell
The "real" deputy prime minister Alastair Campbell
Campbell was an experienced Fleet Street political journalist before joining Blair in Downing Street.

He is the man who advises the PM on everything from what media appearances to make, to the words he should utter.

He was parachuted into Brussels to sort out the Nato press team during the Kosovo conflict.

He is primarily a political adviser who will weigh up all the pros and cons for the government of Britain's involvement in the current crisis.

If you know Alastair's mind you know the prime minister's mind.

Anji Hunter

One of Tony Blair's oldest friends and confidantes, his personal assistant Hunter is the prime minister's door keeper.

He doesn't go anywhere without her and she has recently been given an even more powerful role co-ordinating contacts between all government departments.

She is fiercely loyal to Blair and will be advising him on how his decisions will play with other ministers and other governments.

Also known as the prime minister's shadow.

Jonathan Powell

The Downing Street chief-of-staff is amongst the handful of advisers Blair relies on a daily basis.

He was a career diplomat who gave it all up to work for the New Labour prime minister.

He has comprehensive contacts in Washington and has played a key behind-the-scenes part in the Northern Ireland peace process negotiations.

His brother Charles was a key foreign policy advisor to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Like Campbell, his role is political.

Sir John Kerr

Kerr is the hugely-experienced and able Foreign Office mandarin-in-chief.

Foreign office secretary Sir John Kerr
Kerr is hugely experienced
Blair will rely on him for advice on how to play the conflict with governments across the globe.

He has close contacts with foreign governments and, if a British diplomat sneezes in Islamabad or Jerusalem, Kerr will know about it.

He was recently criticised by a powerful Commons committee over the arms-to-Africa affair.

His performances before that committee were studies in Foreign Office speak and understatement.

John Scarlett.

The former MI6 officer is at the centre of the intelligence networks which will be advising the prime minister on the likely perpetrators of the New York atrocities.

He is currently the chairman of the joint intelligence committee which co-ordinates all intelligence reports and informs ministers.

Like Sir Michael Boyce his advice will be crucial to the prime minister as he attempts to assess the scale of the terrorist threat and the most effective way of dealing with it.

Sir David Manning

The former ambassador to Nato and Israel he is now the head of the cabinet office defence and overseas secretariat.

He is also a key foreign policy adviser and will be giving the prime minister crucial advice on his possible options and how they will play around the world.

He is well known and respected in the White House.


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See also:

16 Sep 01 | Americas
Profile: Bush's fighting team
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