James Forsyth

A face-saving exit for Brown?

A face-saving exit for Brown?
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Few commentators are as well plugged into the Brown circle as Jackie Ashley which makes her column this morning absorbing reading. Ashley floats the idea that Brown might quit after the G20 summit in April to become head of a new international financial regulatory body. Ashley admits that the story sounds implausible but she says that “it comes from quite close to the inner core.”

Leaving aside the fact that putting Brown in charge of this body would be rather like putting the head of the West Indies Cricket Board in charge of all pitch preparation for international cricket, it seems highly implausible that Brown, who has waited so long for the chance to be PM, would leave voluntarily. But Ashley writes that the argument goes like this, “he isn't stupid. He reads the polls. He knows he faces a catastrophic defeat. Now it's only a matter of when. If there is a lifeboat - jump.”

Interestingly, Ashley suggests that if Brown goes Alan Johnson is the man who would best limit the scale of Labour’s defeat. I suspect that Johnson would draw quite a wide range of support not only because he straddles the party’s ideological divisions but also because the more ambitious members of the Cabinet believe that Johnson does not have the stomach for a long stint in opposition, meaning that they would have the chance to run for the leadership soon enough.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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