Nick Brown becomes second gay man appointed in reshuffle

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

As more details of the Cabinet reshuffle are released, it has been confirmed that Nick Brown will replace Geoff Hoon as Chief Whip.

Mr Brown was appointed Deputy Chief Whip by Gordon Brown in June 2007.

He was the Labour government’s first Chief Whip in 1997 and became Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food a year later.

In 2003 he left the government.

Mr Brown told today that he is “absolutely delighted” with his new role.

Parliament returns on Monday, and he can expect a busy couple of weeks taking charge of party discipline in the Commons.

The job of Chief Whip normally comes with membership of the Cabinet.

However, Downing St said that Mr Brown will “attend Cabinet,” as “a recognition of the fact that we need to strengthen the economic capacity of the Cabinet.”

His appointment means that for the first time since Tony Blair was Prime Minister there are two gay people at the Cabinet table.

Peter Mandelson’s return to UK politics was announced today.

He is to leave his post as EU Commissioner for Trade to become Business Secretary and take a seat in the House of Lords.

His appointment shocked Westminster as he has had a rocky relationship with Gordon Brown.

By contrast Nick Brown is a close confidant and political ally of the Prime Minister.

In December he was named as one of the most powerful gay people in British politics by

Speaking to reporters in Downing St this afternoon, Mr Mandelson said of his relationship with the Prime Minister:

“We have had our ups and downs but we have also known each other for over 20 years and originally we worked very well together and I am very proud to have been invited to serve in his government.

“It’s not what I was seeking and it’s certainly not what I was expecting but nonetheless it is a great opportunity and a great challenge and I look forward to returning back to being with my colleagues and my friends again in the Labour government.”

Mr Mandelson’s appointment has been greeted with an outpouring of homophobia in sections of the blogosphere.

Comments on rightwing blog Guido Fawkes include sentiments such as “Lord Mandy of bandit country gets ready to f*ck the whole country up the arse.”

There are two gay men in the Conservative party Shadow Cabinet, Nick Herbert and Alan Duncan, and one gay man, Stephen Williams, and a bisexual man, Simon Hughes, on the Lib Dem front bench.