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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 22:21 GMT 23:21 UK

Cook loses Foreign Office

Robin Cook has been dropped as foreign secretary in a government reshuffle following Tony Blair's second landslide election victory.


" I'm delighted to come back home to parliament "
Robin Cook

Four women have been promoted to the cabinet in the shake-up.

And the much-derided Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been abolished.

Robin Cook has been switched to leader of the Commons.

The move will be widely seen as a demotion.

But Mr Cook himself said: "I have always been first and foremost a parliamentarian and have missed the House of Commons over the past four years.

"Inevitably, as foreign secretary, I have spent little time in the House...I am glad that I will be back at the centre of Commons debate once more."

He indicated he would continue to play a central role in Britain's relations with Europe.

Mr Cook has been replaced as foreign secretary by Jack Straw.

Former education secretary David Blunkett takes over at the Home Office from Mr Straw.

Culture

Culture Secretary Chris Smith and chief whip Ann Taylor have been dropped from the cabinet altogether.

Tessa Jowell comes into the Cabinet - taking over from Mr Smith at Culture, Media and Sport.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott loses his portfolio at the department of the environment, transport and the regions.

He is being moved to a special post in the Cabinet Office, where he will act with the "full authority of the prime minister" to coordinate the delivery of manifesto pledges.

Nick Brown loses his job as agriculture minister.

He becomes Minister for Work, and will be able to sit in on cabinet meetings.

A new department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been created to replace MAFF.

It will be headed by former Leader of the House Margaret Beckett.

Estelle Morris joins the cabinet as head of a new department of education and skills.

This will replace the department of education and employment, formerly run by Mr Blunkett.

Darling goes to work

Social security secretary Alistair Darling will head another new department for Work and Pensions, where he will become Nick Brown's new boss.

Another woman joining the cabinet is Patricia Hewitt.

She becomes trade and industry secretary and minister for women.

Hilary Armstrong joins her in the cabinet as Chief Whip.

Former home office minister Charles Clarke assumes the cabinet post of minister without portfolio.

He is also made Labour Party chairman.

Government changes outside the cabinet will be announced on Saturday.



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