Last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Mandelson’s return to the Cabinet for the third time in his political career as Secretary for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Since 2004, he has served as European Union trade commissioner.
Mandelson was made Trade Secretary when Labour came to power in 1997 but was forced to resign in 1998 over a £373,000 interest-free loan from former paymaster general Geoffrey Robinson. The loan was not declared to mortgage lender Britannia which later dropped its investigation.
Blair brought him back to the Cabinet less than a year later as Northern Ireland Secretary but he was forced to resign again in 2001 over allegations of misconduct over a passport application for Millennium Dome supporters, the Hinduja brothers. He was later cleared of wrongdoing.
Chadney Bulgin mortgage partner Jonathan Clark says: “He is obviously an extremely clever man but it surprises me that he has been put back into that kind of role, given the reasons why he had to first resign.”
John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger says: “This is a high-risk move by Brown which could provoke more in-fighting but when you are far behind in the polls, you may as well take risks. His history means the FSA would not take kindly to an application from him to be a principal of a mortgage broker firm.”
Hamptons managing director Jonathan Cornell says: “Mandelson seems to be a friend to business which is obviously good. I just hope he is successful in his job and restores faith in the banking sector.”