Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

90-Minute Cabinet as Brown Lets Ministers Have a Say

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

90-Minute Cabinet as Brown Lets Ministers Have a Say

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

A CHASTENED Gordon Brown gave his Cabinet a lengthy 90-minute meeting at No 10 today as he responded to calls to be more inclusive. The full Cabinet staged a show of unity in the wake of this week's botched coup at a meeting that lasted from 9 to 10.30am.

All Cabinet members were given a chance to speak in the discussion, which was dominated by planning for several more days of severe weather.

As ministers trooped into No 10, Harriet Harman looked grim-faced, despite being credited by colleagues with telling Mr Brown to his face that he needed to adopt a more collegiate style.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth was all smiles -- perhaps aiming to douse rumours that he had come close to resigning at the height of the failed leadership plot.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who withheld full support from the Prime Minister for a day, was slapped on the back by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain when they arrived at the front door of No 10.

It was clear that the big beasts of the Cabinet -- Labour deputy leader Ms Harman, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Chancellor Alistair Darling -- had all won pledges from Mr Brown when his back was against the wall, including demands for Schools Secretary Ed Balls to have less say.

Although Mr Brown has bought more time at Downing Street, a new poll showed half of voters believe Labour would do better if he stood down.

It also found, however, that few voters could think of a better Labour alternative.

The survey by consultancy firm ComRes for the BBC also found 60 per cent thought Labour was the most divided of the main parties.

Another post-plot poll, by YouGov for The Sun, put Labour on 30 points -- one down on a similar survey published by the newspaper yesterday -- with David Cameron's Tories rising two points to 42 per cent, a lead of 12 points.

It was becoming clear today that the Prime Minister was effectively held to ransom by his senior ministers during the six-hour leadership crisis. …

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