With Labor Party Reeling, Brown Braces for Leadership Fight
Politicians from all the major parties have been implicated in the uproar over claiming false living expenses, but Brown’s Labor ruling party has received the brunt of the criticism.
Lawmakers were found to be charging the government for items like large screen TVs and swimming pool repairs.
Brown had already taken a beating as the British economy struggled in recession and the Conservative Party has enjoyed increasing support. Approval levels within his own party are low, and the BBC reported that a draft letter calling on Brown to resign is to be circulated by lawmakers on Friday.
Brown is expected to fire those members of the Cabinet that were revealed to have claimed excessive reimbursements from the government in an attempt to regain favor of the party, reported the Guardian.
Four ministers have already resigned in recent days. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears resigned Wednesday followed the departure of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and two junior ministers.
“Why doesn’t the prime minister accept that his ability to command the Cabinet has disappeared,” Conservative leader David Cameron said, reported Bloomberg News.
Brown’s party is widely expected to do poorly in Thursday’s elections for the European Union parliament and local town halls, possibly strengthening the case against his leadership.
“Gordon Brown isn’t dead in the water but there are people thinking about firing at his ship,” John Curtice, a politics professor at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University told MSNBC.
“The party is in real electoral trouble with an unpopular leader about whom there are doubts about his ability to do the job.”
When asked about the rumors that Brown may resign under political pressure, Brown’s spokesman said “it’s complete nonsense,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
About 70 Labor members of Parliament would be required to nominate an alternative candidate to oppose Brown. Previous attempts to take on the prime minister have failed twice before – when Brown took over Tony Blair in 2007 and last summer.
But if media reports are any indication, Brown is not in a good position this time.
The Economist wrote that while Labor was not the only party involved in the expense scandal, Brown failed to take the steps needed to reassert control. He “equivocated, dangling colleagues… out of the window without actually dropping them. Whatever political skills he had seem to have deserted him. His government appears at one moment sinister… and the next comical,” wrote the magazine.
The Guardian newspaper, which usually supports Brown’s party said in an editorial that “It’s all over for Brown and Labor. The abyss awaits.”
But a Brown spokesperson told The Independent that the mood on Downing Street is determined.
“The Prime Minister is focused on getting the job done on renewing trust in our political system and our democratic processes and taking the kind of decisions that will help the British people get through difficult economic circumstances,” the spokesperson said.