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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK

UK Politics

New reshuffle looms

George Robertson's move will have a knock-on effect

The appointment of UK Defence Secretary George Robertson as secretary general of Nato will force Prime Minister Tony Blair into a second Cabinet reshuffle days after changes in government.

However, the mini-reshuffle may not take place until the autumn.

The current Nato Secretary General, Javier Solana, is expected to step down from his post in September or October.

A favourite for Mr Robert's replacement at the Ministry of Defence is Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid, who has already served as a defence minister.

So far, Dr Reid has refused to be drawn into speculating on who will take the vacant post.

In recent days, he has said only: "I am perfectly happy being the secretary of state for Scotland."

But if Dr Reid does move to defence, he in turn could be replaced by his deputy at the Scotland Office, Brian Wilson.

By-election to follow

Mr Robertson new appointment will also force a by-election.

The defence secretary has been the MP for Hamilton South since the last general election.

The government is unlikely to worry much about losing the seat when the by-election does take place as Mr Robertson took 65% of the vote in 1997.

The Scottish National Party came second in the seat taking just 17% of the vote.

Mr Robertson was previously the MP for Hamilton from 1978.

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