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Home Secretary - Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith became Britain's first female home secretary with her appointment at the age of 44 to replace John Reid in Gordon Brown's Cabinet.

The promotion was the latest in her successful run of positions since she left behind her economics teaching career when she was elected as Redditch MP in 1997.

Within two years she was a junior minister, and went on to ministerial posts in health, trade and industry and education, finally being appointed Chief Whip in 2006 under Tony Blair.

It was in that role that she built her reputation, being seen to have mixed the charm and threats needed to maintain Labour MPs' discipline during the last days of the Blair era.

Jacqui Smith

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