Cabinet ministers have been lining up behind Gordon Brown, claiming he will do a sterling job as leader of the opposition from May this year, after two former ministers called for a secret ballot on his leadership.
Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon wrote to Labour MPs saying the party was ” in dire need of a leader who will look good on the other side of the House of Commons.”
Hewitt said, “This is not a coup, but we feel the party needs to choose the most appropriate leader of the opposition, someone whose sole job will be to criticise the actual Government.”
“And whilst Gordon has been truly excellent at drawing criticism to his own Government, we’re not sure he’s the man to be dishing it out come May.”
The move by Hoon and Hewitt did not receive the support they expected, with most Labour MPs firmly behind Brown as he draws up plans for his shadow cabinet.
Lord Mandelson said, “Gordon has all of the skills required to sit opposite the Prime Minister once a week and ask difficult questions.”
“He is uniquely qualified to be the leader of the opposition, because he is responsible for most of the problems the next government will be facing.”
“Can you imagine being criticised by the last person who did your job? It would be a nightmare, no matter how bad they were.”
A Conservative party spokesperson told us, “Labour should keep him, definitely. At least until the debates, where we have every confidence he’ll perform just as we require on the night.”