Andy Burnham is the new health secretary in emergency cabinet reshuffle
Before the reshuffle Andy Burnham declared a desire to remain in his dream job of Culture, Media and Sport but promotion to the Department of Health proved too tempting.
Alan Johnson has been given the home secretary job in prime minister Gordon Brown’s post regional election cabinet reshuffle.
King’s Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said it was “frustrating” to have a new secretary of state when Alan Johnson had been in post for less than two years. This move has nothing to do with what is best for the health service,” he said.
Ambition has always been at the core of the 39 year old Cabinet minister who grew up in Leigh, the part of Merseyside he has represented since 2001 and who is often spoken of as a future Labour leader.
Initially considered a Blairite, having worked for New Labour stalwarts Tessa Jowell, Chris Smith and Ruth Kelly, his appointment to DCMS on Gordon Brown’s arrival at No 10 was considered a conciliatory gesture.
It was a job which suited an Everton fan with a penchant for indie music, and he had been content to remain in post, particularly after his clean cut image was somewhat tarnished by the Daily Telegraph’s recent disclosures about his expenses.
In one of the most cringe-worthy revelations about a Cabinet minister, a letter from Mr Burnham to the Commons fees office was made public, in which he begged for a £16,000 decorating bill to be paid, saying: “Otherwise I might be in line for divorce!”
More seriously, he also came to an arrangement whereby a windfall from his landlord was added to his allowances and repaid in expenses, leading to questions over whether he should have paid tax on the transaction.
Mr Burnham’s humiliation was complete when it emerged that he had a £19.95 claim for an Ikea bathrobe rejected.
However, Health came as a reward for denouncing the decision of his close friend James Purnell to turn on Mr Brown, and he now commands the largest workforce and one of the biggest budgets of any government department.
Married to Dutch born Marie-France van Heel, a former marketing executive, the couple have three children.