Tony Blair planned to divide Gordon Brown's fiefdom of the Treasury into two after the 2005 election under proposals drawn up in intense secrecy for the prime minister, reports The Guardian.
The idea was fleshed out in a 200-page document prepared for Mr Blair by his strategy adviser, Lord Birt; the head of the No 10 strategy unit at the time, David Halpern; and another senior No 10 aide, Gareth Davies.
Had the plan gone ahead, Mr Brown may have been asked to move to the Foreign Office. It was abandoned when political advisers told Mr Blair voters wanted him to cooperate with his chancellor.
The scale of the plans to split the Treasury has been one of the most closely guarded secrets of Mr Blair's tenure and its disclosure, on the eve of his announcement about when he will stand down, will underline the difficulties in the relationship between the two key figures in the Labour party over the past 15 years.
A heady mix of strong retail sales, consumer confidence and salary growth will add today to concerns that interest rates may have to rise beyond this week’s expected quarter-point increase, reports The Times.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) will report today that sales on the high street enjoyed a healthy April.
Shoppers for clothing and footwear set tills ringing as warm weather also gave a boost to gardening and DIY supplies.
Its measure of like-for-like sales rose by 2.4 per cent in April compared with a year ago. Although that was lower than March’s figure of 3.9 per cent, the BRC said that the figures stacked up well against the very strong Easter sales of April last year.
Data from Nationwide Building Society added to the picture of a consumer recovery in full swing. The building society said that consumer confidence rose in April for the fourth successive month.
Treasury ministers will today bow to a long-running campaign from fund management companies by allowing electronic investments in retail funds for the first time, reports The Independent.
Ed Balls, the Treasury minister with responsibility for City affairs, is to authorise electronic settlement for all trades in unit trusts and open-ended investment companies (Oeics).
The reform represents a major advance for the fund management industry because current regulations require investors buying or selling fund holdings to sign a paper-based contract.
The rules apply to both private investors trading on individual accounts and to institutional investors placing orders that can be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
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