Britain's Brown under fire

2009-06-04 11:36

London - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will face growing pressure to quit if European and local elections on Thursday go as badly as feared.

Brown's reputation, already battered by a deep recession, has been knocked further by a parliamentary expenses scandal and the resignation of two Cabinet ministers this week.

His ruling Labour party lagged by as much as 20 points in opinion polls behind the opposition Conservatives led by David Cameron before the elections, the last major popular test before a parliamentary election due by this time next year.

Media reports said up to 75 Labour members of parliament (MPs) - around a fifth of the total - were ready to sign a letter calling for his resignation.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson called for calm, saying a plot would only "make things worse for the Labour Party".

"British politics is in a bad old state, nobody is happy and it is affecting all the parties," he told BBC television.

The impression that Brown is struggling to keep control of his party increased on Wednesday when a second Cabinet minister said she was stepping down, pre-empting an expected Cabinet reshuffle Brown had hoped would revive his flagging fortunes.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears joined Home Secretary (interior minister) Jacqui Smith in announcing her resignation.

Both had been tipped for the axe in any reshuffle, but it sparked talk of a revolt against Brown.

'Dear Gordon'

A Labour politician told Reuters he believed a letter calling on Brown to step down was in the works.

The Sun newspaper, Britain's biggest selling tabloid, printed what it said was the wording of the letter:

"We are writing now because we believe that in the current political situation you can best serve the Labour Party and the country by stepping down," it said in a letter addressed to: "Dear Gordon".

With Labour's popularity at such a low ebb, Brown's job would be a poisoned chalice. Health Secretary Alan Johnson, tipped as the favourite to succeed him, gave the prime minister his support on Wednesday.

Opinion polls indicate Labour could be pushed into fourth place in the European Parliament election as voters express their fury over lavish expenses claims.

All parties have been hit by the scandal, in which members of parliament have claimed taxpayers money to pay for everything from floating duck houses, to horse manure, to cleaning a moat.

Voter disillusionment is expected to boost support for far-right parties such as the British National Party (BNP).

Any change of prime minister would add to the clamour for an early election to replace a discredited lower house of parliament. More than a dozen MPs have said they will not stand for re-election after details of their expenses were revealed.

Brown had been expected to wait until May 2010 to call an election, hoping the economy will start to recover by then.

A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph said among people certain to vote in the European polls, Labour would get just 16% support, ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 15% and behind the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) on 18%. It put Conservative support at 26% of the vote.

Labour also faces a rout at local level, where 18 million eligible voters will decide on the composition of 34 local authorities. The party could lose control of four councils in its traditional heartlands in the northwest and Midlands.

Results of the local elections will be announced from the early hours of Friday, while the European results will not be released until Sunday night.

NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

11 things men don’t know about their clothes

There’s actually a logical explanation for that little button under your collar.

 
 

Men24.com

Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!
SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.