Peter Hoskin

Reshuffle and resignation rumours

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There are plenty of rumours swirling around the Wesminster washbowl, but two are worth pulling out in particular.  The first comes courtesy of Danny Finkelstein (who is, incidentally, running a useful rolling post over at Comment Central on the latest leadership gossip):

"Contrary to all previous reports, rumours are now circulating that Alistair Darling would be willing to take another job in the reshuffle, and that the Chancellorship isn’t the be-all-and-end-all for him that everyone had assumed.

Presumably though, this get-out-of-jail card for Brown would hang on offering Darling exactly the right kind of job..."

And then this appeared on Paul Waugh's Twitter feed:

"Word in Westminster is that at 10pm tonight, when the polls close, a Cabinet minister will quit. Lets see if they do."

Taking them in order: if Darling would accept another job, then it does rather smooth Ed Balls' path to the Chancellorship.  But I'm not convinced that's a particularly good thing for Brown, as Balls in the Treasury is one of the surest ways to drive his opponents to open revolt. 

And as for a resignation tonight, word is that Caroline Flint remains the most likely candidate.  But as Europe minister she only "attends" Cabinet, so "Cabinet minister" implies someone higher up the political food chain.  If so, it could be a bumpy night for Brown.  Stay tuned.