1800 Our hunch about Hoon seems to be correct. He is not a rebel. Instead there are plans afoot to give him a job in the EU within a year.
1730 John Healey is the new housing minister
1709 Caroline Flint resigns after not winning a promotion. Sour grapes?
1643 Lord Adonis to transport. Flint gets nothing. Bradshaw to culture. Liam Byrne is chief secretary of the Treasury. Jim Knight becomes employment minister. Beckett and McNulty leave.
1617 Labour lose all their county councils.
1600 Margaret Beckett is no longer housing minister, reportedly. One theory about Hoon’s departure is that he could be parked ahead of taking the job of EU commissioner in a few months. Liam Byrne is likely to be new chief secretary to the Treasury. One guess: How about Caroline Flint for transport? (to increase the female cabinet quotient)
1545 Conservatives take Derbyshire. A dismal result for Labour
1538 Whitehall is staying reassuringly calm amid all the chaos. I’m told Purnell’s picture in Caxton House has already been taken down and replaced with Yvette Cooper’s
1534 The Mandelson empire grows: Whitehall sources suggest the business department will take over all of DIUS, not just science and skills.
1526 Geoff Hoon resigns. Fifth cabinet minister in four days. No reason yet clear. He had trouble over expenses, so there is a chance he was asked to go. UPDATE: apparently he is taking an “advisory role”.
1500 One Westminster veteran describes this as the “Britain’s not got talent” reshuffle
1458 Andy Burnham to health. Peter Hain makes a return to the Wales office at the expense of Paul Murphy.
1452 Bold plans for a new ministerial super structure for “democratic renewal” and public services appear to have been dropped. Another casualty of a “keep it simple, keep it safe” reshuffle.
1420 Sky are saying that Bob Ainsworth, the armed forces minister, is being promoted to defence secretary. Reports of the Taliban raising a white flag. UPDATE: Ainsworth is confirmed.
1415 Bored of listening to loyal Labour MPs? Read the crib sheet instead. It shows the Labour script from which they are repeating loyal lines parrot-fashion. Incidentally, the rebels have their own script: It runs “I have not seen the email, I have not met anybody who has seen it” (It’s not a lie because the email hasn’t gone out yet).
1315 A very, very embarrassing letter (to the FT) has emerged. It appears Alan Sugar was not so keen on Gordon Brown in 1992.
1300 Lord Mandelson is smoothly trying to maintain the sense of a government not in crisis. “I’m not denying we have lost a few good people from the government but it does create opportunities for new young bloods with energy to come into government and fill these places. Any government needs that.” There’s no lack of chutzpah.
1245 Yvette Cooper confirmed at work and pensions. She will have plenty to do: the services for the long term unemployed are in the middle of a big upheaval. About £2bn of contracts need to be signed in July, new provision in place by October.
1215 John Denham confirmed as new communities secretary. Just to recap: Alan Johnson confirmed as home secretary, Darling as chancellor, Miliband at Foreign Office, Ed Miliband at Energy, Jack Straw at Justice, Peter Mandelson at business. Jobs still open: work and pensions, health, defence and DIUS, if it still exists.
1200 Hutton has just given an interview to Sky. It clears up some of the confusion over his decision. But some of the answers remain baffling, particularly over whether he was asked to leave or was told to move. He insists he will stay loyal: “I will continue to give very strong support for Gordon Brown from the backbenches”. One telling quote: “there is a life beyond government. I want to do something different.”
And here is Hutton speaking to the BBC.
1131 Sam Coates makes a good point: Mandelson staying at business means the Royal Mail confrontation with Labour backbenchers is still on. Does Brown really want that?
1120 Hutton releases resignation statement. No mention of why he is leaving. No mention of Gordon Brown. “This is not the place to go into my reasons for leaving. But I can say that it has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to take.”
1119 Jim has confirmed that Ed Miliband will be staying at the energy department
1114 A delicious rumour: will the combative Shriti Vadera be moved to chief secretary of the Treasury to keep an eye on Darling? UPDATE: Liam Byrne will have that job.
1110 Arise Lord Sugar: the Apprentice star will be ennobled to undertake his new enterprise role. Joke in Whitehall is that he’ll get his own department with Nick and Margaret as junior ministers.
1050 One unanswered question is whether there will be any other big changes to the Whitehall architecture. There were rumours about a new focus on “public services” and “constitutional reform”, with super ministers being appointed to both. Perhaps public services is the job for Ed Balls? This should become clear when we hear about Balls’ future and the name of the new health secretary.
1042 Peter Mandelson’s business department will be picking up parts of the department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. We expect this to be the responsibilities for science and possibly skills. That leaves DIUS as a husk. It would just be DU: the department for universities. That, in turn, suggests it will be re-merged with the Department for Children, Schools and Innovation. It has the smack of a real Whitehall farce. DIUS and DCSF were only created by Brown in 2007.
1022 John Hutton, the Blairite defence secretary, is to step down. A big surprise. He was very loyal last night. And he has been devoted to that job — which may explain why he was unwilling to take another one. He could be dangerous. UPDATE: Sky are citing “personal reasons”. But we struggle to believe it.
1015 Sir Alan Sugar, who is tipped to be the new enterprise tzar, lays into Purnell. “One person writing a letter doesn’t mean that everyone is collapsing like a pack of cards.”
0950 Rumours of Shaun Woodward going to defence seem to be untrue. “I have nothing to report to you. But maybe the prime minister will want to see me later,” he said. UPDATE: Spoke too soon. Woodward will be a favourite to replace Hutton.
0944 David Miliband on Purnell: “I don’t share the judgement he made….today is a day for working not resigning.”
0921 Word is that David Miliband is safe at the Foreign Office.
0915 Alan Johnson goes to the Home Office
0900 I’m told the rumours of Yvette Cooper replacing James Purnell at the department for work and pensions are true. (UPDATE: Joke doing the rounds at the Treasury is that Carole Vorderman will be in as chief secretary. “She’s good at sums.”)
0846 Jack Straw will be staying at the Justice department.
0845 Alistair Darling has just gone in to No 10 to learn his fate. The BBC’s Nick Robinson thinks he will be staying. Folks at the Treasury sound more confident.
Darling defied Brown last night, telling him that he would refuse to move as chancellor. In light of this, Brown’s decision must be seen as a sign that he has recognised the weakness of his own position. If it gives any clue to the rest of the reshuffle, don’t expect the Brown tribe to emerge triumphant. The prime minister may be keener to shore up his own position than reward his dwindling band of loyalists.