James Forsyth

The Brown will go stories won’t go away until he does

The Brown will go stories won't go away until he does
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Simon Walters’ Mail on Sunday story about the possibility of Brown stepping down in January so as to avoid being voted out later in the year is going to set tongues wagging. Although there are no named sources in the piece, Walters knows the lay of the Westminster land so well that he wouldn’t be writing it up like this without cause.

What the story is really a reminder of, though, is that once Labour MPs believe that they can replace the leader without having to hold a snap election, then Brown’s position will be far more precarious. At that point, many Labour MPs will think why not roll the dice and see if a new leader can save some of their skins. (Oddly, Walters list of potential new leaders is Johnson, Balls and Purnell.) There is, though, a possibility that Brown's allies are putting about the story that he might go voluntarily so as to drain momentum from any September coup.

Interestingly, tonight’s ComRes poll suggests, as John Rentoul points out, that even if the economy picks up—the last great Brown hope—the Prime Minister won’t get much of a boost. If Labour are still behind the Tories by 10 points or more come the autumn and then New Year, one has to imagine that there will be another attempt to oust Brown and that this time it will garner more support among the Parliamentary Labour Party.

 

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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