Irish Republican News · June 4, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Brown heave could trigger Westminster election
Brown heave could trigger Westminster election
gordonbrown.jpg

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under increasing pressure from his own MPs and is likely to be ousted, according to reports.

Pressure is mounting on Mr Brown to quit following the resignation of communities secretary Hazel Blears yesterday.

Her departure -- the second top-level resignation in as many days -- came on the eve of the European election and local elections in Britain.

Brown’s Labour Party is on a record low of just 17 per cent of the vote.

Eve-of-election polling suggests the British Labour Party could secure less votes than the ultra-right UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Labour MPs are already circulating a draft email urging Mr Brown to stand down.

Reports claimed that up to 100 MPs could be prepared to put their names to the petition, which read: “Dear Gordon, over the last 12 years in government, and before, you have made an enormous contribution to this country and to the Labour Party, and this is very widely acknowledged.

“However 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 as party leader and prime minister, and so allowing the party to choose a new leader to take us into the next general election.”

Attention was also focusing on cabinet ministers and their likely responses to the imminent cabinet reshuffle that Mr Brown hopes will reinvent his government and lead Labour into the general election year.

In an atmosphere of feverish speculation, it was being suggested that Mr Brown’s authority could be dealt another lethal blow if ministers refused to be moved or to continue to serve as the prime minister chooses.

Central to that scenario is the position of the chancellor, Alistair Darling, who Mr Brown again refused to confirm will still be in his office next week.

It was revealed that Darling had “flipped” the designation of his main and second homes four times in four years to maximise his benefit from expenses, while also using British taxpayers’ money to pay his personal accountancy bills.

Scores of Tory MPs including himself have also been caught in the scandal to some degree, but Conservative leader David Cameron claimed Mr Brown’s ability to command his cabinet had “disappeared” and that his government was “collapsing before our eyes”.

He suggested that “a rash of byelections” would actually deflect from the widespread feeling that the British general election will not be delayed beyond late July or early September.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg declared Labour “finished” and Mr Brown’s government in “meltdown”.

“The prime minister is thrashing around, fighting for his own political survival. The country doesn’t have a government, it has a void,” he charged. “Labour is finished. The only choice now is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.”

Mr Brown’s difficulties have been compounded by the scandal over MPs expenses, and he suggested the resignations were connected to the near-daily revelations by the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Mr Cameron rejected that, and insisted that if it had to do with Ms Blears’s expenses claims she should have resigned weeks ago.

WOODWARD OUT

However, British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward, who has strongly defended Mr Brown, is set for a significant promotion in Mr Brown’s planned reshuffle.

His departure could see further derailment of the long-planned transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast.

The departing head of the Policing Board, Desmond Rea insisted this week the time is now right for the devolution of justice powers to Stormont.

While the DUP and Sinn Féin have agreed to a process whereby the powers will be transferred to a local ministry, a date has still not been set.

Speaking at his last formal engagement prior to stepping down as chair of the Board, Rea said: “I believe lessons have been learnt and in that respect policing is no different to any other organisation.”

Rea was replaced by deputy chair Barry Gilligan on June 1 but will continue to serve as a member of the board.

© 2009 Irish Republican News