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Straw, Clarke out as Blair carries out major cabinet reshuffle

London, May 5, IRNA-Prime Minister Tony Blair Friday carried out his most sweeping cabinet reshuffle after the ruling Labour Party suffered its worst local election defeats in nearly 40 years, losing control of 12 councils.

The most surprising replacement was the ousting of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw following reported difference with Blair in not supporting threatened US military attacks against Iran.

As expected, Charles Clarke was replaced as Home Secretary after being embroiled in the continuing pressure to resign over the release of over 1,000 foreign prisoners that should have been considered for deportation.

The only early news of appointments was the transfer of the leader of the House of Commons Geoff Hoon to become Europe Minister.

It comes after Hoon was sacked last year as Defence Secretary.

It was later reported that Defence Secretary John Reid was being moved to replace Clarke as Home Secretary. It was also reported that Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett could become Britain's first woman Foreign Secretary.

The reshuffle is seen as an attempt by Blair to regain support after Labour came third in the national share of the vote in Thursday's local polls, losing more than 200 council seats to the main opposition Conservatives.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who is seeking to replace Blair when he carries out his promise to step down from power before the next general election, said the defeats were a "warning shot" for the government after weeks of negative headlines.

... Payvand News - 5/5/06 ... --

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