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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 13:55 GMT
Another Tory wooed by Blair

Mr Blair with Michael Heseltine (left) and Kenneth Clarke (right) Many Conservatives appear comfortable working with Tony Blair


The defection of Shaun Woodward has swelled the ranks of Conservatives appearing to work comfortably under Labour leader Tony Blair.

Mr Blair has given jobs to several leading figures on the left of the party since becoming prime minister.

One of the first was Michael Heseltine, appointed chairman of the Britain-China forum to promote Anglo-Sino relations last October, during the week of the Conservatives' annual conference.

Divided loyalties

The Britain in Europe campaign this year again saw Mr Blair take the stage with Mr Heseltine and former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke to support the cause of the EU.

The most high profile Blair appointee has been European Commissioner Chris Patten.

Although his post had, by convention, to be filled by a Tory, there were many rumours that Mr Blair had ignored Mr Hague's official nominee to hand the job to the relatively left-wing Conservative and last governor of Hong Kong.

The prime minister also appointed former Tory chief whip Alistair Goodlad - who had been tipped by some for the Europe job - as British High Commissioner to Australia.

But lower-ranking Tories such as Leominster MP Peter Temple-Morris and, now, Shaun Woodward, also appear happy to work under Tony Blair.

Labour officials say Mr Woodward may not be the last Tory MP on the more liberal wing of the party to boost Labour's already overflowing ranks.

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