Reports of 'debate' in Cabinet denied
23 Oct 2005
Ministers were out in force today to deny reports that debate had taken place in this week's meeting of the Cabinet. Some newspapers claimed that there had been a full and frank discussion on the forthcoming Schools White Paper, but that now appears not to have been the case.
"There is absolutely no suggestion that we had debate in Cabinet this week, that's a ridiculous suggestion," Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt told the Dimbleby programme at lunchtime. "It was like any other Cabinet: John Prescott shouted a bit, then we all agreed with Tony and that was it. Nothing amiss there."
Her colleague Alan Johnson added that there was "no question" of any debate in Cabinet. "All that happened was that Tony set out his views after talking to his advisers on the sofa, then we agreed with what he was saying," she said. "There was no dissent, there is no split. We all agreed with Tony Blair 100%."
Earlier the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, told Andrew Marr: "Whenever flagship policies are developed there is going to be total agreement within the government. It's an inescapable fact, we are all of the same opinions – Tony's."
John Prescott was said by Downing Street to be "unavailable" for comment.
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Oi, down here!