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Learning English - Words in the News
05 May, 2006 - Published 12:26 GMT
UK government reshuffle
Tony Blair and Charles Clarke

In Britain the prime minister Tony Blair has started to reshuffle his government after poor local election results for the governing Labour Party. Mr Blair has sacked the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, and demoted the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. This report from David Cornock:

Listen to the story

Tony Blair has embarked on the most wide-ranging reshuffle of his nine years in government. The Home Secretary Charles Clark is sacked after admitting losing track of foreign prisoners, who were freed rather than deported. He is replaced by the Defence Secretary, John Reed.

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw leaves his post after five years to become leader of the House of Commons. He is replaced by the veteran minister Margaret Beckett - the first woman to hold the post.

There's a new cabinet minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon. The deputy prime minister, John Prescott loses part of his role; he has generated damaging headlines over an extramarital affair with a civil servant.

The changes follow council elections that saw Mr Blair's governing Labour Party lose hundreds of seats mainly to the main opposition Conservative Party. There is growing pressure on the prime minister, who has said he will step down within four years, to hand over to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

David Cornock, BBC, London

Listen to the words

embarked on

involving many people

fired, forced to leave the job

losing track of
not being able to find or locate


to hold the post
to be in the job

made appear

occurring outside marriage

step down
leave the job

to hand over
to surrender, to pass on responsibility

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