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Summary Article: Prescott, John Leslie from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

British Labour politician, deputy party leader (from 1994) and deputy prime minister (from 1997) until 2007. With his solid working-class background and strong trade-union links, he provided an important bridge between the Blair administration's ‘New Labour’ modernizers and traditional ‘Old Labour’. Immensely loyal to Prime Minister Tony Blair, he held a succession of key ministerial posts between 1997–2006 despite a poor delivery record. He headed the ‘super department’ of environment, transport, and the regions 1997–2001 and put forward an ambitious 10 Year Plan to expand and integrate public transport. In 2001, after a second Labour election victory, he took on a newly created post in the Cabinet Office to oversee the implementation of manifesto pledges. He remained responsible for policy on housing, devolution, regional and local government, and the Government Offices for the Regions, under what, from May 2002, was named the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. In May 2006, after he was damaged by press reports alleging infidelities in his personal life, his ministerial responsibilities were transferred to Ruth Kelly, secretary of state for Communities and Local Government. He stood down as deputy prime minister in June 2007 when Blair retired as prime minister. He stood down from Parliament at the 2010 general election and was given a peerage in the dissolution honours list.

Born in Prestatyn, Wales, the son of a railway signalman, Prescott was brought up in Yorkshire and Cheshire. He worked as a steward in the merchant navy 1955–63 and trade-union official, and continued his education through Workers' Educational Association correspondence courses and at Ruskin College, Oxford, and Hull University, studying economics and history. He became a full-time officer of the National Union of Seamen (NUS) in 1968 and entered the House of Commons in 1970 as MP for Kingston-on-Hull (East) under NUS sponsorship. In 1975 he became a member of the European Parliament, despite being opposed to the UK's membership of the European Community. He became MP for Hull East in 1983, and as a member of the shadow cabinet from 1983 Prescott was spokesperson for employment, energy, and transport. He unsuccessfully contested for the party leadership in 1988 and 1992.

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Prescott, John Leslie

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