Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brown 'Has Not Been Given the Crown Yet'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Brown 'Has Not Been Given the Crown Yet'

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

CLAIMS that Tony Blair yesterday anointed Gordon Brown as his successor have been played down by a leading Blairite Cabinet minister.

Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton refused to endorse widespread speculation that the Prime Minister used the Queen's Speech debate to "crown" the Chancellor as the next Labour leader.

Mr Blair surprised MPs when he ended his speech yesterday with what many believed was an official endorsement of Mr Brown. Pointing his thumb at his own benches, he said: "The next election, it will be a flyweight versus a heavyweight.

And however much you may dance around the ring, at some point you'll come within reach of a big, clunking fist," he said.

"You will be out on your feet, carried out of the ring - the fifth Tory leader to be carried out, and a fourth term Labour government still standing."

But Mr Hutton, who has long believed that the party needs a real leadership contest rather than a "coronation", repeatedly ducked invitations to agree that Mr Blair had actually been referring to Mr Brown. …

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