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     Mandelson flies back to take over  <<back  next>>

Lord Mandelson has returned from his holiday in Corfu to formally manage the business of government as the prime minister continues his summer break.

The Labour peer took charge of the government on Friday after Commons leader Harriet Harman departed for her holiday in Italy, and he will hand over to justice secretary Jack Straw on Sunday.

Officials were reported to have shrugged off claims of chaos in the ministerial holiday rota, stating that over the weekend Lord Mandelson was constantly in touch by BlackBerry and mobile phone, overseeing government communications.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "You can't send Peter Mandelson information about security issues on a BlackBerry to Corfu."

Upon returning to London, Lord Mandelson is focusing on government efforts to boost the economy, and will seek to ensure the survival of thousands of jobs at Vauxhall.

In an interview with the Guardian, the business secretary also described his austere diet and discusses the maturing of his political tactics over nearly 20 years of frontline politics.

Lord Mandelson described himself as a "kindly pussycat" as opposed to a "big beast" of politics.

"I think 10 years ago, and also 15 years ago, I was a very hard-nosed, uncompromising figure who was manning the barricades of change in the Labour Party, and prepared to take down anything or anyone who stood in the way," he said.

"I don't feel in that mode now. And secondly, I've learned from experience that you can defeat people without killing them."

Following a fortnight in his Fife constituency Gordon Brown is expected to take a break in the Lake District this week.

11 August 2009

 Last updated: 11/08/2009 09:41:00

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