29 September 2000
`No prime minister could have a better deputy than John Prescott,' said Tony Blair in Brighton on September 26. But in Whitehall the view of his talents is somewhat different. `Prescott has just the heavyweight qualities needed to bang heads together,' said a Labour insider last week.
The job of Cabinet Office minister would certainly be seen as a step down for Prescott who could, however, retain his title of deputy prime minister.
As Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions he has taken flak for the handling of rail privatisation contracts, as well as for major train accidents such as Paddington which brought safety into serious question. More recently, he was in the front line in the fuel crisis before Blair took over.
The Cabinet Office job has already extinguished the careers of three ministers: David Clark, Jack Cunningham and Mo Mowlam, who left the Labour government at Brighton this week.