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New British Leader Shapes First Post-Blair Cabinet


Britain's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown has signaled to the country that his government will be different, not business as usual. In just one day, most of the familiar faces associated with former Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet have disappeared. For VOA, Tom Rivers reports from London.

Polls over the last year have shown that staying the course set by Tony Blair would translate into a Labour Party defeat in the next general election.

Apparently mindful of this and to show that he is his own man, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the former Treasury Secretary who waited in the wings for a decade, quickly moved to mold the cabinet in his image.

Among the most important new appointments, former Environment Minister David Miliband becomes Foreign Secretary. At 41, Miliband is the youngest person to hold that position in three decades. Without giving too much away, he hints he will take a new and fresh approach to the job.

"I am tremendously honored and absolutely delighted to have been asked by the new prime minister to become the foreign secretary in his new government," Miliband said. "The opportunities and challenges of the modern world require in my view a diplomacy that is patient as well as purposeful and which listens as well as leads."

Mr. Blair was long out of step with the British people over Iraq. While Miliband was once Mr. Blair's top policy advisor, media reports indicated at the time that he was skeptical about the decision to go to war.

For Mr. Brown, changing current British policy in Iraq would lift Labour's flagging fortunes.

That could mean an accelerated phased pull-out of British forces in the south of the country.

Domestically, Mr. Brown wants more emphasis on traditional bread-and-butter issues such as improving housing, education, health care, and public transportation.

For the first time, Britain has a female Home Secretary. Jacqui Smith takes up the important law-and-order post that has been beset with problems, ranging from a failed prison policy to ineffective and questionable immigration and security oversight.

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