James Forsyth

‘Of course’ Darling will stay as Chancellor if we win, says Brown

'Of course' Darling will stay as Chancellor if we win, says Brown
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The prospect of Ed Balls as Chancellor is politically toxic. James Purnell resigned last summer because he was sounded out about taking the schools’ job that Balls held, which Purnell took as a sign that Brown was planning to make Balls Chancellor. Mandelson saved Brown’s skin that night only by reassuring the rest of the Cabinet that Darling would remain as Chancellor.

In recent weeks, the Tories have tried to make the idea of Balls being Chancellor after the election into an election issue. Their thinking is that the public would find this idea as unappealing as Balls’ Cabinet colleagues did.

But in his Guardian interview today, Brown says that he “of course” wants to keep Darling as Chancellor should he win re-election. As well as trying to prevent a splits story in the run up to polling day, I suspect that Brown’s pronouncement is also influenced by the prospect of a hung parliament. If Labour were trying to govern without a majority in the Commons by relying on the Lib Dems to vote through their Queen Speech, Budget and the like, it would be a lot easier to obtain this support if Darling was Chancellor not Balls.

 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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