Matthew Dancona

Mandelson enters the fray

Mandelson enters the fray
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Peter Mandelson's dig at Gordon Brown for his botched, theatrically half-hearted signature of the Lisbon Treaty is more than the latest chapter in the 13-year-old feud between Blairites and Brownites. It is also (yet another) uncanny echo of the John Major era. The Grey One tried his best to plot a middle course on Europe - and ended up pleasing nobody.

It is often pointed out that Labour is not split over Europe as the Tories were in the Nineties. That is true. But Mr Brown's backbenchers are divided no less fiercely over a much more toxic issue: how soon the PM should step down. One Labour Privy Councillor told me that if Gordon didn't get his act together by the summer that Jack Straw or Alan Johnson would have to step in. Improbable? Maybe. But scarcely the sort of mutinous gossip Mr Brown wants to be circulating less than six months after he took over.