Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pound Drops as Plotters Tell Ministers: Finish Brown Off

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pound Drops as Plotters Tell Ministers: Finish Brown Off

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

GORDON BROWN today bunkered down in No10 as Labour plotters begged Cabinet ministers to finish him off.

Despite there being no sign of senior ministers yet wielding the knife, the pound dropped on rumours sweeping the City that Mr Brown was about to quit. Sterling fell from its daily high of $1.6433 to $1.6089 in a matter of minutes as panic gripped dealing rooms. Downing Street dismissed the rumours as "absolute nonsense" and the pound regained some of its losses to stand down 2.19 cents at $1.6171.

Mr Brown was plotting his fightback from No10 -- and the rebels resorted to issuing pleading messages to the Cabinet to intervene with a killer blow. One key rebel leader admitted the bid to oust the Prime Minister would fail unless Cabinet ministers went to tell him to go.

The MP, who claimed the plotters would easily get 75 names on an open letter calling on Mr Brown to stand down, told the Standard: "To be honest, we are just a peasants' revolt. We can burn haystacks and destroy crops but we cannot deliver the coup de grace. For that to happen we need Cabinet members to earn their salaries and have the cojones to do the job."

The burning question at Westminster was whether those senior ministers known to be dismayed with Mr Brown's performance in office would go for him.

Privately, some said that a bad enough disaster in today's local and European elections could trigger moves but it would take a sizeable group of likeminded ministers to succeed. The Prime Minister, who was visited by Sir Alan Sugar, whose catchphrase is "you're fired", was phoning key colleagues to be certain of their support.

He was said to be offering jobs in a sweeping reshuffle that could be brought forward to tomorrow -- a move that would bind ministers into his camp ahead of the expected deeper turmoil when the European elections results are announced on Sunday night. …

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