Peter Hoskin

Breaking: Hoon and Hewitt call for secret ballot on Brown’s leadership

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So says Nick Robinson.  More soon.

UPDATE: The Standard has a copy of the letter which Hoon and Hewiit have sent out to Labour MPs.  Here's a key extract from the article:

"Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt warned: 'There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.' Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt added: 'In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party.

'It is our job to lead the fight againstour political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.'

The pair told the Standard that they were not calling for Mr Brown's removal but only for a secret ballot on whether to hold a leadership contest. It could strengthen the Prime Minister's position, they pointed out."

Very little may come of this – I mean, remember last June? – but this is terrible timing for Brown.  Whatever Hoon and Hewitt's intentions, the leadership speculation is now back with a vengeance.  And the election clock is ticking...