Britain’s Brown picks a war critic for new Cabinet

LONDON — New Prime Minister Gordon Brown named a Cabinet yesterday that included a critic of the Iraq war as foreign secretary — a clear signal of a shift in British policy toward the unpopular conflict.

Less than 24 hours after taking over the prime ministership from Tony Blair, Mr. Brown swept all but one of his predecessors from their Cabinet posts, shifting a few into other jobs and replacing the rest with a mix of new faces and trusted allies — effective immediately.

Mr. Brown’s lineup includes his longtime political ally, 53-year-old Alistair Darling, as chancellor of the exchequer, or treasury chief. Mr. Brown held the post throughout Mr. Blair’s decade in power.

Jacqui Smith, the ruling Labor Party’s former chief whip in Parliament, became Britain’s first female home secretary.

But the most eye-catching new name was rising political star David Miliband, who at 41 becomes the youngest British foreign secretary in 30 years, and potentially one of the most controversial, given his discomfort over the Blair government’s policy on Iraq.

Mr. Miliband voted along with much of Parliament to go to war in Iraq four years ago, but he is reported to have later become quite skeptical about the decision to send in British troops.

Three British troops were killed in Iraq yesterday, bringing the nation’s toll to 156.

Mr. Brown took over as prime minister Wednesday with a pledge to meet a demand for “change” from British voters after 10 years of Mr. Blair.

Mr. Miliband’s selection as foreign secretary was “a clear indication that Brown wants to shift some of the style and focus of Blair’s foreign policy,” said David Mepham, head of the international unit for the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Mr. Miliband, who is viewed as one of the new government’s leading intellectuals and considered a possible future prime minister, “wasn’t closely associated with the decisions that were taken in the Iraq war,” Mr. Mepham said.

Mr. Miliband also expressed dismay over Mr. Blair’s refusal to call for an immediate truce during last summer’s war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon.

That decision provoked a party revolt against Mr. Blair and helped drive him to his decision to step down as prime minister.

Mark Malloch Brown, former deputy U.N. secretary-general and a critic of the Iraq war, was appointed minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations.

In all, there are 22 full Cabinet members in the Brown administration. Defense Secretary Des Browne is the only Cabinet member remaining in the same post as Mr. Blair’s Cabinet.

Other jobs went to the new prime minister’s old political allies, including Jack Straw, Mr. Brown’s leadership campaign manager and Mr. Blair’s foreign secretary until 2006, as justice secretary.

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