Home Secretary John Reid yesterday came to the defence of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in the face of claims he had been sidelined over the airline bomb plot.
There was widespread criticism of Mr Prescott - standing in for Mr Blair - after it was disclosed he did not attend the first two meetings of the Government's Cobra emergency response committee.
Although attended a third, that - like the earlier two - was chaired by Dr Reid.
At a Home Office news conference, Dr Reid insisted that it was normal for the Home Secretary to chair Cobra meetings.
"These are absolutely conventional arrangements that apply in these circumstances," he said.
Dr Reid also said that when Mr Blair left for his holiday on Tuesday, Ministers had not expected the police to move against the alleged plotters so quickly.
He rejected suggestions he agreed to remain in the country while Mr Blair was away so Mr Prescott would not be in charge.
Mr Prescott has only been seen briefly entering No 10 when, embarrassingly, he had to knock on the door to be let in.
Meanwhile Midland MPs remained divided last night over whether Parliament should be recalled to debate Lebanon and the terror plot.
Birmingham Selly Oak MP Lynne Jones said she was among 100 Labour MPs who had put their name to a letter calling for a return of MPs.
Dr Jones was joined by Labour colleague and Northfield MP Richard Burden in criticising the Government.
The letter was also signed by Clare Short (Ladywood), Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North-west), Khalid Mahmood (Perry Barr) and David Winnick (Walsall North).
However, Caroline Spelman, the Conservative MP for Meriden, has dismissed calls for an immediate recall.
She said: "Although I do not believe the nation has any faith in the country being put in the hands of John Prescott I am not convinced the cost of pulling MPs back is worth it.
"I think there is a case to bring Parliament forward from October 10 to September, but I am not convinced we need an immediate recall unless there is a significant deterioration in the current situation."
Dr Jones said she would expect MPs to pay their own costs.
She added: "I think leaving it to September is too late. The crisis is happening now so we need an immediate recall."