Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 15:36 UK

Holidaying PM 'still in charge'

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown is on a break but will deal with any 'anything important', Downing St says

No one minister is standing in for Gordon Brown this weekend while the PM is on holiday, Downing Street has said.

Instead a "number of senior ministers are helping out" while he takes his month-long summer break.

On Thursday Harriet Harman ended her week deputising for the PM but Lord Mandelson is still in Corfu.

Downing St said earlier he was in charge and "contactable" but later a spokesman said that was not correct, adding Mr Brown "remains in charge".

He said: "Gordon Brown has a number of senior ministers who are all helping out."

Whether they were on holiday or in the office all ministers were available on their mobile phones and blackberrys, he said, pointing out that Justice Secretary Jack Straw was on holiday but had still taken the decision to release Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.

While Gordon Brown is on his break different ministers are filling in for him as stand-in PM.

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I hope that cabinet ministers all have their mobiles and smartphones turned on

It was deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman's turn this week, but her office said on Friday she was now on leave.

Downing Street initially said Lord Mandelson was the minister in charge of day-to-day affairs.

But later a spokesman said it was not correct to say Lord Mandelson had taken over the day-to-day running of government.

Asked who was dealing with it between Friday and Monday, the spokesman said: "The prime minister remains in charge. If there is anything important the prime minister will deal with it".

It was revealed earlier this week that Mr Brown is spending part of his holiday doing voluntary work in his Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency.

Ms Harman's stint in charge saw her hit the headlines for suggesting there should always be a woman in one of Labour's top two jobs and that men "cannot be left to run things on their own."

On Thursday she denied her comments had been about positioning herself as a future Labour leader and played down differences between her and Lord Mandelson - amid reports of divisions over parental leave rights and flexible working.



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