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Brown survives move to dump him

[ 2010-01-08 14:02]     字号 [] [] []  
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UK's PM still faces calls for quick election after Labour's failed revolt

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces fresh demands for an immediate general election after he survived an attempted backbench coup yesterday but received only lukewarm statements of support from key cabinet ministers, including the foreign secretary, David Miliband.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, and Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat counterpart, both said yesterday that the attempt by two former cabinet ministers to unseat Brown showed that Labour was no longer fit to govern.

The prime minister fought for several hours beginning Wednesday afternoon to shore up his authority, culminating in Miliband - the man seen by many within the party as his potential successor - issuing the most equivocal statement.

It said: "I am working closely with the prime minister on foreign policy issues and support the re-election campaign for a Labour government that he is leading."

Miliband's statement came seven hours after Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon tried to stir cabinet discontent with Brown's leadership into an open rebellion.

A phalanx of key cabinet ministers eventually rallied to Brown's standard during the course of the afternoon, including Alan Johnson, Harriet Harman, Alistair Darling and Lord Mandelson.

Mandelson told Newsnight on Wednesday night that Brown was the "best possible" leader for Labour.

"The party has reached a settled view. They want Gordon Brown to lead the party as prime minister into the general election whenever it takes place and they don't want to open the question of the leadership," the business secretary said.

The frenzied activity was triggered at lunchtime when Hoon and Hewitt - in a coordinated move in which they emailed all Labour MPs - called for a secret ballot to decide once and for all if Brown should lead the party into the election.

Many Labour MPs said they were disgusted with the former disciplinarian Hoon and said he had taken leave of his senses

In their letter, the rebels wrote: "Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their views in a secret ballot."

But they made their move only minutes after Brown had given one of his most effective performances at prime minister's questions. and hours after Mandelson had used a speech on growth to mark the end of his temporary disillusionment with his premiership.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Brown survives move to dump him

About the broadcaster:

Brown survives move to dump him

Linda Kennedy is a presenter and writer. She has reported and commented extensively on BBC TV, and was a correspondent for "News at Ten" on ITV. She also wrote a column for The Scotsman newspaper.