Former Cabinet minister Nick Brown returns to government today under his friend, new Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The two men, along with Tony Blair, were first elected in 1983 and are close allies.

In 1994 Nick Brown acted as campaign manager for Gordon Brown, and advised against the famous deal that saw the future Chancellor stand aside in favour of Mr Blair.

He has been appointed as Minister for the North East and Deputy Chief Whip by Gordon Brown.

Nick Brown was the government’s first Chief Whip in 1997 and became Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food a year later.

In 2001, his department’s handling of the foot and mouth epidemic saw him demoted by Tony Blair and in 2003 he was sacked from the government altogether.

In November 1998 Nick Brown had made a statement that he was gay as a response to enquiries from The News of the World which had been approached by a previous lover who was offering the story for sale.

The Sun then raised the issue of a “gay mafia” as it claimed that four out of the sixteen men in the Cabinet at that time were gay.

Gay minister Ben Bradshaw has been appointed Minister for the South West, though it is not yet known if he will remain at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.