David Blackburn

Confusion reigns

Confusion reigns
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On Wednesday, the Downing Street press office confirmed with us that there was a timetable for ministers to stand-in for Gordon Brown. They said that Harriet Harman was in the job this week and last and that Lord Mandelson would begin “next week”. Today it’s emerged that Harman’s stint has ended prematurely, and that she’s been replaced by Mandelson – though he’s yet to return from Corfu. The Dark Lord is influential, but can even he run the government from the Med?

We thought we’d check what was going and put in another call to Downing Street. This time they had a different story: we were told that there was no timetable; that there never had been a timetable. A press officer said: “As is customary, there is a team of ministers who are on call.” Then added: “The Prime Minister is always in charge.” I doubt the country’s on the verge of collapse, but the general confusion hardly inspires confidence.