I'LL QUIT; EXCLUSIVE Labour: The Battle for Power Brown's Threat to Blair over Reshuffle BROWN TO BLAIR: Removing McCartney Would Be the Point of No Return for Me BLAIR ALLIES Alan Milburn John Reid Charles Clarke Stephen Byers Peter Mandelson Tessa Jowell Patricia Hewitt BROWN ALLIES Alistair Darling Andrew Smith Nick Brown Paul Boateng Dawn Primarolo Douglas Alexander Jack Straw
Byline: PAUL GILFEATHER Political Editor
FURIOUS Gordon Brown warned Tony Blair he would quit over the PM's attempts to demolish his power-base in a Cabinet reshuffle.
News of the Chancellor's extra- ordinary threat comes as Labour's greatest-ever partnership teeters on the brink of collapse.
And last night Downing Street was bracing itself for a shock leadership challenge as the Chancellor's closest aides urged him to resign in protest over his treatment.
A senior Government insider revealed: "It is believed Gordon is preparing to pick the fight with Tony which will bring to an end the most successful-ever era in Labour's history.
"There have been many, many fall-outs over the past 10 years but nothing like this. We are looking at all-out war and Gordon believes the leadership is his for the taking."
Last week's showdown came ahead of Alan Milburn's elevation to policy supremo and General Election mastermind.
Mr Blair had intended to dump popular Labour chairman Ian McCartney and hand the job to his close pal and former health secretary.
But sources at the top of Government have told us that Mr Brown erupted with fury on hearing the proposal. And during one stormy session, the Chancellor warned Mr Blair: "Removing McCartney would be the point of no return for me."
Mr Blair agreed not to sack Mr McCartney, but in an attempt to out-manoeuvre his Chancellor created a new, all-powerful role for Mr Milburn - giving him enough clout to challenge Mr Brown in any leadership contest.
Given the title Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the 46-year-old arch-Blairite and self-styled moderniser was given full control of Labour's next manifesto and General Election campaign.
Both briefs belonged to Mr Brown, who spearheaded Labour's last two General Election landslides.
Mr Milburn has also been given an office inside No 10.
Mr Brown's resignation threat is being taken seriously by Downing Street, with members of the PM's inner circle warning that such a development could be imminent. But Mr Blair is desperate to avoid his resignation, fearing it would plunge his Government in chaos. …