The Prime Minister has thrown his backing behind Lord Jones of Birmingham and insisted there were no regrets over the controversial decision to appoint him to the government.
The embattled Trade Minister, formerly Sir Digby Jones, received Gordon Brown’s support despite revealing earlier this year that he would resign rather than endorse Labour in a general election.
Quizzed by MPs, Mr Brown shrugged off criticism from Labour backbenchers and insisted Lord Jones had done an “excellent” job.
In a separate move which could cause further controversy, it was announced that Lord Jones will attend the Beijing Olympics for five days in August, as part of British efforts to strengthen trade links with China.
The decision is another vote of confidence in him, but may anger campaigners who have called on British ministers to boycott the Games in protest at China’s human rights record. Lord Jones will attend the closing ceremonies but miss the opening of the Games.
Lord Jones, a Birmingham-based lawyer, and former chief of the CBI, was an unpopular choice among Labour MPs.
Mr Brown was quizzed about this and other appointments as he spoke to the Commons liaison committee, made up of senior backbenchers