The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has appointed Margaret Beckett to replace Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary. Beckett is the first woman to serve in that post. Currently Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), she was the first person to hold that position, which was created in 2001. As Foreign Secretary, Beckett will be the UK’s equivalent of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, herself the first African-American woman in that position.
According to BBC, Beckett was the first woman to serve as deputy leader of the Labor Party between 1992 and 1994. She briefly became the Leader of the Labor Party, then the opposition party, after John Smith died in office in 1994 but lost the post to Blair, reports BBC. Beckett has also served as President of the Board for Trade, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, President of the Privy Council, and the Leader of the House of Commons, according to DEFRA.
Blair’s appointment of Beckett is part of his effort to revitalize the Labor Party, which suffered losses in local elections this week.