Tessa Jowell quits the shadow cabinet

"Job done," says the former shadow minister for London and the Olympics.

Tessa Jowell has quit the shadow cabinet, saying that it's "job done" now that the Olympics and Paralympics have finished.

The shadow minister for Labour and the Olympics says that her focus will now be on her constituency, Dulwich and West Norwood.

She told the Evening Standard: "It’s very rare in politics to see something through from beginning to end and I’ve been able to do that with the Games."

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said:

Over her career, Tessa has been an amazing asset to the Labour Party and to Britain. Her legacy is enormous. What we have seen at the London 2012 would not have been possible without Tessa’s determination and dedication both in championing the bid and playing a major role in delivering the Games. For this the whole country owes her a huge debt of gratitude.

Tessa Jowell. Photo: Getty

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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George Osborne's surplus target is under threat without greater austerity

The IFS exposes the Chancellor's lack of breathing space.

At the end of the last year, I noted how George Osborne's stock, which rose dramatically after the general election, had begun to plummet. His ratings among Tory members and the electorate fell after the tax credits imbroglio and he was booed at the Star Wars premiere (a moment which recalled his past humbling at the Paralympics opening ceremony). 

Matters have improved little since. The Chancellor was isolated by No.10 and cabinet colleagues after describing the Google tax deal, under which the company paid £130m, as a "major success". Today, he is returning from the Super Bowl to a grim prognosis from the IFS. In its Green Budget, the economic oracle warns that Osborne's defining ambition of a budget surplus by 2019-20 may be unachievable without further spending cuts and tax rises. 

Though the OBR's most recent forecast gave him a £10.1bn cushion, reduced earnings growth and lower equity prices could eat up most of that. In addition, the government has pledged to make £8bn of currently unfunded tax cuts by raising the personal allowance and the 40p rate threshold. The problem for Osborne, as his tax credits defeat demonstrated, is that there are few easy cuts left to make. 

Having committed to achieving a surplus by the fixed date of 2019-20, the Chancellor's new fiscal mandate gives him less flexibility than in the past. Indeed, it has been enshrined in law. Osborne's hope is that the UK will achieve its first surplus since 2000-01 just at the moment that he is set to succeed (or has succeeded) David Cameron as prime minister: his political fortunes are aligned with those of the economy. 

There is just one get-out clause. Should GDP growth fall below 1 per cent, the target is suspended. An anaemic economy would hardly be welcome for the Chancellor but it would at least provide him with an alibi for continued borrowing. Osborne may be forced to once more recite his own version of Keynes's maxim: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.