At least once before, Tony Blair came close to breaking up the empires of the Foreign Office and Home Office. He never previously got as far as announcing it.
This morning the Foreign Office was split in two. There were two cabinent ministers. Geoff Hoon became Secretary of State for Europe. There was to be another Secretary of State responsible for the rest of the world. It was not not clear who was to have the rest of the world job, but it would not be Jack Straw. Charles Clarke had been offered the job, but turned it down.
By this afternoon Geoff Hoon was no longer in the cabinet. Downing Street had 'clarified' its previous announcemnents. Hoon was to be a Minister of State, attending cabinet when required. Later still it was announced that Margaret Beckett was to be Foreign Secretary.
We can only presume that Beckett too was offerered the rest of the world job and also turned it down, accepting it only if it was the old Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
How on Earth did Blair get as far as announcing the demise of a department, only to restore it later the same day? He hasn't done that since the Welsh Office was briefly abolished, in one of his previous botched reshuffle. Oh dear!