British Premier Gordon Brown on Sunday promoted Shriti Vadera - an ex-banker of Indian origin said to be among his most trusted colleagues - to a powerful new ministerial post aimed at solidifying his economic team.
Baroness Vadera's exact designation was to be announced later, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
However, the Observer newspaper said she has been given “a powerful new role based partly in the Cabinet Office overseeing business and enterprise issues across the government.”
Vadera, an influential figure in Brown's government and said to be fanatically loyal to him, is the parliamentary under-secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.
The ex-UBS banker, who advised Brown closely on recent government rescue measures to bail out failing British banks, will be seen as offering the prime minister an alternative voice on economic policy from that given by his finance ministry headed by Alistair Darling.
The new and powerful economic wing of his government is completed by Peter Mandelson, the Blairite European Trade Commissioner brought in as the secretary (minister) for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.
The government changes, announced Friday, usher in what Brown has called “serious people doing serious jobs in serious times.”
The British premier has launched a new National Economic Council (NEC) that will advise on measures to steer the economy through the current global crisis and appointed a series of 'business ambassadors,' including the chairmen of Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Vodafone, Standard Chartered, the London Stock Exchange, Rio Tinto and J Sainsbury
Vadera's position is expected to be key in Britain's efforts to not only meet the current financial challenges - described by Brown as a “truly global financial crisis” - but also to prepare the nation for taking up business opportunities as the climate begins to improve in the longer term.
It was Vadera, who, on Brown's invitation, briefed the Cabinet on the financial crisis.
Vadera, who worked under Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), was once described by the Observer newspaper as “the minister Gordon Brown trusts more than any other in his government.”
However, the paper added: “In eight years at the Treasury, her reputation for forcefulness went before her. Senior colleagues reacted with dismay when, on occasions, she reduced junior staff to tears.
“But the longer she remained there, the more her greatest champion, Gordon Brown, came to admire and rely on her.”