Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ten Ministers Ready to Quit

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ten Ministers Ready to Quit

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

UP TO 10 junior ministers are willing to resign to force Gordon Brown to stand down, Labour MPs claimed today.

The bombshell threat means the Prime Minister could face a mass resignation before Labour's conference in September.

The danger level to Mr Brown also increased following reports that David Miliband and Alan Johnson are being urged to forge a "dream ticket" in any leadership contest.

A former minister told the Evening Standard: "Brown is proving an unmitigated failure and there is no shortage of MPs who are willing to go public with that view.

"I have spoken to several members of the Government who say they will resign if it proves necessary to provoke a change of leader before it is too late. There are probably at least 10.

"There are other MPs, like me, who will sign a letter asking the Prime Minister to stand down. We cannot go on to the general election with the Government in such a hopeless state.

"We know there are candidates who would be an improvement, such as David Miliband or Jack Straw." Both developments significantly increase the possibility of a bloody attempt to drive the Prime Minister from office, a step that Labour rebels hope can be avoided by Mr Brown agreeing to go quietly.

Until now there has been no obvious successor for disenchanted Labour MPs to rally around but the suggestion of a pairing between Mr Miliband, the young and cerebral Foreign Secretary, with the persuasive and street- wise Health Secretary, Mr Johnson, could encourage the rebels.

There is no suggestion that either man has agreed to a formal pact but a Labour grandee said: " It is still very early but a Miliband- Johnson ticket is one option being spoken about." Justice Secretary Mr Straw is waiting until September before assessing the state of the party and the opinion polls and deciding whether to approach Mr Brown and urge him to go. …

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