Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North East MPs Rally for Brown Rebels Wanted. Downing; FURY AT SECRET LABOUR LEADERSHIP BALLOT PLOT

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

North East MPs Rally for Brown Rebels Wanted. Downing; FURY AT SECRET LABOUR LEADERSHIP BALLOT PLOT

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

NORTH East MPs have rallied behind the Prime Minister in the wake of calls for him to face a secret leadership ballot.

The plot was hatched by former Cabinet ministers Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, who sent an email to Labour MPs as Mr Brown took part in Prime Minister's Questions.

It said the Parliamentary Labour Party should resolve internal wrangling "once and for all" by voting on whether there should be a leadership contest, describing it as a "clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest".

But the attempt to dislodge the PM has been criticised by Labour MPs in the region, with the backlash led by Newcastle East and Wallsend's Nick Brown, who is also North East minister.

Mr Brown, chief whip and a close ally of the Prime Minister, described the moves as an "unhelpful gesture" and added: "I strongly disapprove of what has been done.

"The Government's Whips office is united behind the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

There is no significant support for this unhelpful gesture made by ex-ministers." Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell had even stronger words for the rebels, who had only received the backing of a handful of colleagues by today. He said: "These ex-ministers just make me vomit. Exministers who have lost their jobs are like cry babies. They must be like the only child in their families and if they don't get their way, they upset everybody else.

"They are entitled to their views, of course, but there is a time and place for these things. The time has gone. If you wanted to get rid of Brown, you should have done it long ago. We have got to get behind him."

Foreign secretary and South Shields MP David Miliband is identified by some commentators as a potential successor to Mr Brown. He issued a statement that stopped short of giving his full backing to the leader. …

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