Peter Hoskin

While the cat’s away, the mice will undermine his authority

While the cat's away, the mice will undermine his authority
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So the Times reveals something we all half-knew already: that Alistair Darling dug his heels in when there was talk of him being ousted from the Treasury during the last reshuffle.  Here's the lowdown:

"Alistair Darling remained as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the June reshuffle after telling Gordon Brown that he would leave the Government rather than move to another job, The Times has learnt.

The Chancellor, who is in charge of the Government this week while Mr Brown is on holiday, told him that as the Prime Minister he had every right to put whoever he wanted into the Treasury. But his insistence that he would not take another role left Mr Brown powerless to move him."

The joy of this story is its timing; with Darling only a couple of days into his stint at running the country.  But it's also a reminder - if one were necessary - of how weak Brown's position is.  Every one of the stand-in premiers has, intentionally or not, brought something to the table which undermines his authority.  Harman had her blatant leadership positioning.  Mandelson's week in charge has widely been reviewed as Labour's Best Week For Ages, and ended with more speculation about him becoming Labour leader.  And, now, Darling's turn begins with a reminder of the dark days of June.  Hm, let's see what Jack Straw has lined up for next week...