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Blair Reshuffles Cabinet after Heavy Local Election Losses

  • VOA News

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has reshuffled his cabinet after his Labor Party suffered heavy losses in local elections Thursday.

Environment Minister Margaret Beckett was named foreign secretary, replacing Jack Straw, who was demoted to the post of leader of the ruling Labor Party in the House of Commons.

Mr. Blair also removed Charles Clarke from the post of home secretary. That job now goes to Defense Minister John Reid. Senior Treasury Ministry official Des Brown took over the defense portfolio Mr. Clarke called the changes the prime minister's right and responsibility.

Opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron responded, saying the shake-up is not enough and instead a new government is needed.

The Labor Party is reeling from scandals and charges of incompetence, including the accidental release of more than one thousand foreign prisoners who had faced deportation.

Political observers say Labor's poor election showing could force Mr. Blair to name a date for leaving office.

First elected in 1997, Prime Minister Blair has already said he will not seek a fourth term. Britain's next general election is set for no later than May, 2010.

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