Home Secretary ditched ID cards without telling Brown

GORDON Brown’s main rival for the Labour leadership tore up the government’s key ID card policy without informing the Prime Minister, it was reported last night.
The Home Secretary Alan Johnson is said to have surprised the Prime Minister and his senior advisers by declaring that holding an identity card would never be compulsory for British citizens.
Last night, reports suggested that No 10 had no idea that the Home Secretary would arbitrarily change the previous policy, which was that ministers would make ID cards compulsory.
Suggestions of friction between the two politicians has re-ignited speculation that Johnson’s name will once again become associated with plots to take over the Labour leadership before the next general election. Johnson, a former postman, has always declared he would not challenge the Prime Minister.

Johnson, who was recently promoted from Health Secretary to the Home Office, had been scheduled to make a low-key announcement last Tuesday, abandoning plans for ID card trials at two airports which would have made carrying them compulsory for some pilots and airline staff.

After doing so, however, he went much further and declared: “I want the introduction of identity cards for all British citizens to be voluntary.”

A government source said: “No 10 knew Alan was going to make the airports announcement. But they had no idea he would simply tear up the entire policy as far as compulsory cards were concerned.”

Brown has always insisted that he backs moves towards making ID cards compulsory — despite protests from Labour MPs and a pledge by the Tories they would abandon them if elected, saving an estimated £2 billion.

A Downing Street spokesman last night denied there was a “rift” between the Prime Minister and Johnson.