Insights from the UK and beyond
When Prime Minister Gordon Brown reshuffled his cabinet last week, fending off a challenge to his authority, a significant outcome was the creation of one of the most powerful ministerial jobs Britain has seen in years.
Peter Mandelson, a former European commissioner who has twice served in British governments in the past and twice been forced to resign, was reconfirmed as secretary of state for business, but also given greatly expanded authorities that make him a powerful if unofficial number two to Brown.
Much fun has been made of Mandelson’s new title, which because he has been elevated to the House of Lords in order to serve in the cabinet now officially reads as:
“Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham, Lord President of the Council, First Secretary of State, and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.”
The most interesting shift is that of Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner, back to Britain to take on the role of business secretary in the cabinet, probably with a focus on managing the fallout from the economic crisis.