Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brown `to Keep Job' Says Blair

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brown `to Keep Job' Says Blair

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes Political Editor

The Prime Minister virtually guaranteed Gordon Brown would keep his job as Chancellor after the General Election if Labour won as the economy was thrust to the centre of Labour's campaign.

Tony Blair tried to defuse one of the tensions of his party's campaign declaring that it would be "foolish" to get rid of one of the most successful Chancellors in more than 100 years.

It has been widely speculated that Mr Brown could be moved to the Foreign Office on May 6 as Mr Blair tries to underline his authority during a third term.

Many Labour insiders have been calling for the Chancellor to take a more direct role in the party's campaign, following the controversial appointment of Darlington MP Alan Milburn as election supremo, and his words will come as relief for many activists.

But for Tory leader Michael Howard the comments were a diversionary tactic aimed at taking attention away from the Prime Minister himself.

During the last Commons clash between all three leaders, Mr Howard repeatedly warned voters they could not trust Mr Blair after breaking promises on tax, immigration and top-up fees.

He even challenged Labour MPs to admit whether they were putting Mr Blair's photograph on their campaign literature ( to which only six backbenchers agreed, including Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland.

However, with Labour yesterday sending out campaign DVDs to marginal seats without Labour branding and with a message from Tony Blair tucked away from the main video, it is becoming apparent trust will be a central feature of the election.

Yesterday it was the relationship between Prime Minister and Chancellor that dominated proceedings.

"This is probably the most successful Chancellor, Gordon Brown, that the country has had for 100 years. He has delivered economic stability, and low interest rates, and low unemployment, and better living standards.

"So without breaching any protocols about how I decide things, we would be pretty foolish to put that at risk," he said.

The three main parties used the second day of campaigning to focus on different agendas, with Labour highlighting the economy, the Conservatives crime and yob culture and the Liberal Democrats women's pensions and maternity pay. …

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