Monday, 14 January 2008

Hain: PM chooses his words very carefully

A relieved Peter Hain will enjoy reading today's Sun - up to a point.

The Prime Minister has offered him his support - but Gordon Brown acknowledges that the Welsh Secretary's fate is out of his hands.

“Peter has done a great job and it would be a great loss if he had to leave the Government.

“He took his eye off the ball and he has apologised. The matter must rest with the authorities, who will look at all these matters.

“It would be my expectation that he will carry on in Government.”

Mr Brown praises the Neath MP for his work in Northern Ireland and as Work and Pensions Secretary. Those looking for a slap in the face/snub to Wales won't be disappointed as his other Cabinet role isn't mentioned.

The PM's vote of confidence combined with the absence of significant fresh revelations in the Sunday papers makes it more likely Mr Hain will survive in the short-term - at least until the electoral commission and parliamentary commissioner finish their investigations.

Not all Labour MPs think he will keep his job. Even some of those publicly supportive of Mr Hain say privately that his use of the obscure PPF think thank is "strange" and suggest that despite respect for him on the backbenches his overt ambition in the past has won him few friends.

As my colleague James Landale said on the Ten O'Clock News last night, "He's not out of the woods yet."

At least this is one Welsh Secretary who won't claim to be in the woods looking for badgers.

out of the woods

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