Lord Mandelson gets to be British premier - for a week
With Prime Minister Gordon Brown on holiday, Business and Enterprise Minister Lord Peter Mandelson is the chosen one. He is in the Greek island of Corfu, holidaying with Nathaniel Rothschild, heir to the Rothschild banking family.Updated: Aug 10, 2009, 19:09 IST
Britain was briefly run from a Greek island on Monday by the man who, apparently, wants to be prime minister.
With Prime Minister Gordon Brown on holiday, Business and Enterprise Minister Lord Peter Mandelson is the chosen one. He is in the Greek island of Corfu, holidaying with Nathaniel Rothschild, heir to the Rothschild banking family.
In Brown's absence, the job of running the country will be undertaken by rota by three senior ministers. First up was Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, but she was on holiday in Italy, August being the month when much of Britain goes on leave.
So after a brief period of uncertainty - said to be 72 hours long, the job fell on Mandelson.
A shrewd politician who is credited with crafting Labour party's return to power after decades in the wilderness, he ran the affairs of Downing Street remotely on Monday before catching a flight for London.
Described by opposition Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles as the “real PM”, Mandelson was the subject of recent press speculation as the man who could succeed Brown as Labour leader.
On Monday, Mandelson, who is also first secretary of state - a position that is equivalent of deputy prime minister, monitored Downing Street communications from the opulent Rothschild villa overlooking the Ionian Sea.
According to The Guardian, Mandelson's working day lunch is a frugal fare, comprising granola, green tea, “the odd apple” and a chocolate bar delivered to him in the late afternoon.
Mandelson is to hand over Downing Street duties to Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) Alistair Darling Aug 16, who is to be followed by Justice Secretary Jack Straw before Brown returns to resume control.
Prime Minister Brown, meanwhile, is expected to swap his traditional holiday in his Scottish constituency of Kirkcaldy for the Lake District this week.