James Forsyth

As Tony Blair would say, ‘Weak, weak, weak’

As Tony Blair would say, 'Weak, weak, weak'
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Events moved so fast yesterday it was easy to overlook the most important development of the day: Gordon Brown couldn’t move his Chancellor. Every Brown supporter who has fanned out across the media in the past few days has stressed that Brown should stay PM because he is the man best placed to lead Britain through the downturn. But Brown is now so weak that he cannot have the Chancellor who he thinks is best placed to help him do this.

Brown’s denial that he wanted to move Darling at his press conference was risible. Brown had umpteen opportunities to put an end to the stories about Darling being replaced by Balls at the Treasury and never took one of them.  

As Andrew Grice notes, the Brown-Darling working relationship will  now be fraught to say the least. One of the reasons Brown wanted Darling out, was that Darling was opposed to a second stimulus in this autumn’s PBR. With Darling having so publicly faced Brown down, we can expect negotiations over the PBR to be particularly tense. 

PS There's a wonderfully ambiguous quote from Peter Mandelson about Ed Balls in his interview with The Times: “I’m not going to talk about Ed Balls. What I’m interested in is new Labour and its continued success.” 

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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