Brown forming first Cabinet

Gordon Brown is tonight selecting his government in his first act as prime minister.

Mr Brown has promised to lead a government of all the talents, but he has already been denied several big names.

Instead it is likely Mr Brown will bring young, loyal talent into the Cabinet, while retaining a few reliable Blairites.

According to reports, the health secretary Patricia Hewitt and foreign secretary Margaret Beckett will both be removed from their positions.

Ms Beckett was a respected foreign secretary and escaped the criticisms that have dogged Ms Hewitt’s career.

However, her ambitions to remain in the Foreign Office appear to have fallen victim to the prime minister’s determination to rejuvenate the Cabinet.

Constitutionally speaking, Tony Blair resigned on behalf of the entire government, but other prominent figures have said they will not return to the frontbenches.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott stood down along with the prime minister. It is not certain Mr Brown will appoint a replacement and he could instead devolve Mr Prescott’s remaining responsibilities to other ministers.

Arch-Blairite and social exclusion minister Hilary Armstrong has permanently resigned from government.

The attorney general Lord Goldsmith announced just days before Mr Brown’s arrival that he would also leave his position.

This followed rumours Mr Brown was keen to bring senior Liberal Democrats into government, potentially in Lord Goldsmith’s role, thereby disassociating the Blair administration from a decision on the cash for honours enquiry.

Mr Brown is likely to promote husband and wife team Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls.

As a former economic adviser, Mr Balls is a long-term ally of Mr Brown.

The prime minister has said he will make affordable housing a priority and is strongly rumoured to create a Cabinet-level housing minister. Ms Cooper, also a strong Brownite, has impressed many with her handling of the role within the Communities Department.

Mr Brown’s final Cabinet is likely to feature some surprise candidates.

Although he appears to have been unsuccessful in enticing senior Lib Dems into government, he could bestow ministerial positions on business leaders.

Mr Brown could confirm his chancellor and home secretary this evening, but the full Cabinet will not be revealed until the prime minister chairs his first Cabinet meeting tomorrow.