Cabinet reshuffle: As it happened

GORDON Brown today began a reshuffle of his Cabinet, following last night's resignation of Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell.

Key developments so far:

• John Hutton quits as Defence Secretary

• Geoff Hoon resigns as Transport Secretary

• Alan Johnson moves from Health to Home Office

• Sir Alan Sugar to join Government as 'enterprise tsar'

Alistair Darling, Lord Mandelson, David Miliband, Jack Straw remain in current posts


1828hrs: Full report on today's events

1756hrs: Full text of Caroline Flint's resignation letter

1731hrs: More on Caroline Flint's resignation

1723hrs: Gordon Brown on the Chancellor: "Alistair Darling, as I said in the House of Commons only two days ago, has served the country not only well domestically but is internationally acclaimed for much of the work he did in relation to the G20. I was asked this in the Commons only on Wednesday and I paid tribute not only to his work in the past, but his work in the present, and the work that he is doing to bring about the economic recovery."

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"Alistair Darling is not only a very good personal friend of mine and I have known him for many years... but he has also been a great Chancellor. Look, we are going through a great economic crisis. It is unprecedented. The idea that we were to split over this issue of working through the economic problems and getting solutions is just ridiculous. Alistair and I are not only friends, colleagues, but have been working in the G20 to get answers. The respect that he has in the rest of the world is something that I hope the rest of the country will soon be able to acknowledge."

1719hrs: The Prime Minister said he would clean up politics, push forward with economic recovery and continue public service reform. Three new ministerial councils – the Democratic Renewal Council, the Domestic Policy Council and an enhanced National Economic Council – will report weekly to the Cabinet.

1707hrs: Gordon Brown, still speaking at Downing Street: "I accept my responsibility. I'm not going to walk away from my duty to the country. . . I'm not complacent. I have never been arrogant. I'm not doubting we have suffered a big defeat. But the task facing this country is so great we have got to get on with the job. I think people will see we are ready to deal with the problems, not shirking these responsibilities and getting on with the job."

1706hrs: Europe Minister Caroline Flint has quit the Government

1705hrs: New Cabinet in full

1703hrs: "Our party cannot lead or succeed by heeding the empty and expedient reactions of the hour. Yes it was a tough night but we fight on for what we believe."

1655hrs: "I have faith in doing my duty ... I believe in never walking away in difficult times."

1653hrs: "If I didn't think I was the right person leading the right team ... I would not be standing here..."

1652hrs: "We need to create a decent, honest politics in this country... politics which is dedicated towards serving the public..."

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1650hrs: "The lesson that we have learned this week is that we must push ahead further and faster. To do this I have restructured the cabinet..."

1647hrs: Gordon Brown: "I am going to be candid... the economic crisis and now a parliamentary crisis is a test of everyone's resolve..."

1647hrs: Gordon Brown press conference begins...

1645hrs: Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, on the resignation of James Purnell: "There will be no sad farewell from millions of ordinary people across the country. As Secretary of State, he presided over one of the worst periods in the history of our welfare state, bringing in merchant banker David Freud to do his dirty work before Freud himself defected to the Tories . . . Yvette Cooper should make scrapping Purnell's welfare reform proposals a priority."

1643hrs: Employment minister Tony McNulty has resigned from the Government, it was announced tonight.

1642hrs: Rail Minister Lord Adonis promoted to Transport Secretary, replacing Geoff Hoon.

1641hrs: Paul Murphy - replaced by Peter Hain as Welsh Secretary - likely to leave Government altogether, according to reports.

1637hrs: More on Ian Gibson's decision to stand down

1630hrs: Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling: "Alan Johnson will be this Government's fourth Home Secretary in four years. It's no wonder there seems to be so little coherent strategy to deal with anti-social behaviour, knife crime and a general rise in violence."

1624hrs: Harriet Harman to stay in place as Leader of the House of Commons

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1622hrs: Geoff Hoon, who today resigned as Transport Secretary, will perform an "advisory" role for the Government on a number of issues.

1620hrs: Ian Gibson tells the BBC: "I do feel angry that I've been singled out without knowing why."

1608hrs: Labour MP Ian Gibson is to stand down from his Norwich North seat immediately, triggering a by-election. Mr Gibson had been under pressure following disclosures about his expenses claims.

1602hrs: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn to remain in post

1557hrs: Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward to stay in post, according to reports.

1556hrs: Gordon Brown expected to address public "in the next few minutes".

1554hrs: Cabinet Office Minister Liam Byrne to become Chief Secretary to the Treasury - reports

1552hrs: Housing Minister Margaret Beckett is to leave the Government

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1545hrs: Culture Secretary Andy Burnham expected to replace Alan Johnson as Health Secretary - reports

1542hrs: Deputy Leader Harriet Harman on Geoff Hoon: "He has done a very good job and I pay tribute to him."

1530hrs: Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has resigned from the Cabinet, accoring to reports

1509hrs: Peter Hain to return to Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales - reports

1505hrs: Douglas Alexander to stay in place as International Development Secretary, according to reports.

1456hrs: Former Labour minister Meg Munn: "I think that what James Purnell put in his letter was right, unfortunately. Although Gordon Brown has done a good job at the start, I don't think he is providing the sort of leadership that the country needs. I want Labour to continue in power and I think we need to move on with a new leader."

1426hrs: Ian Godden, chief executive of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, on the departure of Defence Secretary John Hutton: "We are extremely sorry to lose him. He brought with him a real understanding of the industry to the Cabinet, and an appreciation of its value to both the Armed Forces and to the UK economy at large."

1414hrs: Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth to replace John Hutton as Defence Secretary - reports

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1410hrs: New Home Secretary Alan Johnson offers full support to Gordon Brown. Read more here

1405hrs: New Home Secretary Alan Johnson today said he was backing the Prime Minister "to the hilt".

"I am supporting Gordon Brown. I am backing Gordon Brown. I have no ambition to be the leader. I have never had any ambitions to be the leader."

1337hrs: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper to replace James Purnell as Work and Pensions Secretary, according to Westminster reports.

1330hrs: Lord Mandelson on Defence Secretary John Hutton's resignation: "It's quite unrelated to the current torrid time. We're losing some good people from the Government but it does give the opportunity for some young blood with energy to come in."

1316hrs: David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, on Sir Alan Sugar's rise to Government: "Sir Alan has encouraged young people to think about business in a way they have not before. We need a new spirit of enterprise in this country and if he can drive change in Government to deliver policies that will stimulate this he will have achieved something valuable."

1310hrs: Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague: "He (Gordon Brown] clearly hasn't been able to move ministers he wanted to move. It is very evident he wanted the Chancellor out of that job, possibly that he wanted the Foreign Secretary out of that job and he hasn't felt strong enough to move them... it is a weakened team that stays in office over the next few months."

1254hrs: Ed Balls - tipped to replace Alistair Darling as Chancellor of the Exchequer - will remain as Schools Secretary - according to report

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1240hrs: James Purnell made a "courageous" decision to resign from Government, says his constituency party chairman: "I asked him why he had chosen to leave the Cabinet and he said it was a personal decision, but it was not part of a plan for other ministers to step down.

"I know that, up to this week, he was a very strong supporter of Gordon Brown, but I can't say what has led to his change of view. But this would not have been a light-hearted decision."

1234hrs: 'Not always the best of friends' - Political Correspondent Gerri Peev blogs on the relationship between Gordon Brown and Sir Alan Sugar at The Steamie

1210hrs: Confirmed - Universities and Skills Secretary John Denham will take over at Communities and Local Government, replacing Hazel Blears. Much of Mr Denham's former portfolio is expected to be taken by Lord Mandelson's Business Department.

1200hrs: John Hutton: "My decision is a personal one. I am absolutely committed to supporting Gordon as Prime Minister and doing everything I can to get a Labour Government elected at the next Election. . . We have made our choice of party leader and Prime Minister and it is our responsibility to support him now in these very difficult times and I will certainly be doing that."

1137hrs: More on Sir Alan Sugar's Government appointment

1131hrs: John Denham offered chance to replace Hazel Blears as Secretary for Communities and Local Government - reports.

1130hrs: More on Defence Secretary John Hutton's resignation

1115hrs: Confirmed - Jim Murphy to remain as Secretary of State for Scotland.

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1105hrs: Businessman and Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar is set to receive a peerage as part of a new enterprise role in the Government, a source said today.

1055hrs: The state of play so far: Alan Johnson's move from Health to the Home Office is the only major appointment confirmed so far. Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy is expected to stay in the role. Jack Straw, David Miliband and Peter Mandelson will remain in position as Justice, Foreign and Business Secretaries respectively.

Alistair Darling, despite persistent speculation that he would be moved from the Treasury, will remain as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1040hrs: Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward in line to replace John Hutton at Defence - reports

1039hrs: James Purnell will have no regrets about his attack on Gordon Brown's leadership, says a close Labour Party colleague

1027hrs: Confirmed: John Hutton has resigned as Defence Secretary for "family reasons". He is also to stand down as an MP.

1024hrs: Westminster reports - Defence Secretary John Hutton has resigned.

1018hrs: Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle: "Activists are bitterly disappointed at the way senior figures within the party have acted. The resignation of Hazel Blears the day before the council and European elections in such a deliberately calculated way is regarded as treacherous. People are also bitterly disappointed with James Purnell. More consideration should have been given to the damage this is causing the party."

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1007hrs: David Miliband on James Purnell's resignation: "He is obviously a big and serious person and I think it is a loss to Government. However, I don't share the judgment that he made. I have a different position, I think the voices that we need to listen too are the voices of people who depend on a strong and effective and progressive Labour Government. I think we need to listen to the voices of people who are going out to work today, who are looking after their kids, who are worried about care for their parents.

"So today is a day for working not resigning and that is what I am going to do."

1005hrs: David Miliband is to remain as Foreign Secretary, say reports

0955hrs: Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward: "James's decision surprised all of us... Yes, this is a difficult time. We need to understand the real difficulties this expenses crisis is bringing to the country, not just for Gordon, for all of us."

0950hrs: Surprise wins for Labour in two Scottish council by-elections.

0946hrs: David Miliband: "Today is a day for working, not for resigning."

0945hrs: John Prescott lets rip at his former Cabinet colleagues for Labour's poor performance in the European and English local government elections.

0935hrs: Alan Johnson's acceptance of a new role within the Cabinet could be an important development if Gordon Brown is to remain as Prime Minister. Mr Johnson had been widely tipped as a candidate to stand for the Labour leadership if Mr Brown had resigned.

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0925hrs: Peter Mandelson: "I regret James Purnell's decision... I think he got it wrong... the rest of the cabinet are fully behind Gordon Brown."

0910hrs: Health Secretary Alan Johnson is to become the new Home Secretary in Gordon Brown's reshuffle, sources said.

0900hrs: David Cameron: "We need a Government that is strong, that is united, that has purpose. Instead we have a Government in complete chaos. We really do deserve better than this.

"Just ask yourself 'Do you think there is anyone in this Government today thinking about what their job should be about...or do you think they are just thinking about their own selfish political future in the Labour Party?'"

0855hrs: The biggest vacancies are Home Secretary (created by the resignation of Jacqui Smith), Communities Secretary (formerly Hazel Blears) and Work and Pensions Secretary (James Purnell).

Among those tipped for promotion in the reshuffle are Universities Secretary John Denham, Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander. Europe minister Caroline Flint – who was one of the first to go public with criticism of Mr Purnell's resignation – may win a full Cabinet post.

0845hrs: If Alistair Darling is to remain in post, as reports suggest, it represents a change in fortunes for the Edinburgh MP, who had come under pressure over a series of controversial expenses claims. In an interview published in Tuesday's Scotsman, he had seemed resigned to losing the role.

0840hrs: Jack Straw to keep his job as Justice Secretary, according to reports.

0830hrs: Alistair Darling is to remain in post as Chancellor of the Exchequer, reports Sky News.

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