Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

PM Gordon Brown ‘on brink of standing down’

Gordon Brown delivers a statement to the media in Downing Street
Gordon Brown delivers a statement to the media in Downing Street
Nick Clegg, left, is preparing for further discussions with David Cameron (centre) and has also talked to Gordon Brown
The DUP's Jeffery Donaldson looks confident at the Lagan Valley Count
The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr (centre) pictured after winning the North Antrim seat
Alliance Party's Naomi Long and the DUP's Peter Robinson at the East Belfast election count in Newtownards Leisure Centre
The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr pictured after winning the North Antrim seat with his father Dr Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley Jr celebrates with DUP Party memebrs after taking the North Antrim seat at the election count in the Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena
The TUV's leader Jim Allister pictured after the DUP's Ian Paisley Jr wins the North Antrim seat
David Trimble, husband of candidate Daphne Trimble at the Lagan Valley count
The DUP's Peter Robinson at the East Belfast election count in Newtownards
Naomi Long celebrates winning East Belfast this evening with her husband Michael
First Minister and DUP Leader Peter Robinson congratulates Naomi Long of the Alliance Party after she won the East Belfast constituency at the count centre in Newtownards
The DUP's Peter Robinson at the East Belfast election count in Newtownards Leisure Centre
Jim Allister Leader of the TUV at The Seven Towers Leisure Centre in Ballymena for the North Antrim seat count
Mike Nesbitt at the Strangford election count in Newtownards Leisure Centre
Independent Unionist candidate Lady Sylvia Hermon celebrates retaining her seat in North Down with her sons Robert and Thomas
Independent Unionist candidate Lady Sylvia Hermon celebrates retaining her seat in North Down
Mark Durkan celebrates his re-election as Foyle MP with his election agent Brenda Stevenson, left and his wife Jackie
Sir Reg Empey lost his seat to the DUP's William McCrea
Independent candidate Rodney Connor
Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew answers questions from the press following the suspension of the count at 5am on Friday morning
Sinn Fein candidate for Fermanagh/South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew with newly elected MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty
Rev William McCrea speaks after winning his south Antrim seat
Nigel Dodds with wife Dianne at the Valley Leisure centre in Newtownabbey
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams arrives for the count at the Kings Hall in Belfast where the South and West Belfast constituencies are being tallied
Sein Fein's Gerry Kelly at the count in the Valley Leisure centre in Newtownabbey
DUP's Sammy Wilson delivers his victory speach at Valley Leisure Centre for East Antrim
Gregory Campbell who held his seat in East Londonderry after the counting ended earlier this morning in Templemore Sports Complex
Gregory Campbell hugs his wife after he was returned as the MP for East Londonderry
Dr Alasdair McDonnell, SDLP, speaks at the King's Hall after retaining his South Belfast seat
The Vauxhall Cavalier taxi on which a controlled explosion was carried out on last night outside Templemore Sports Comples in Londonderry where votes were being counted in the general election

Speculation is increasing that Gordon Brown could tender his resignation as leader of the Labour Party as early as tomorrow.

Senior party figures yesterday urged Mr Brown to face up to the reality of the election result and stand down as soon as possible to enable the party to rebuild in opposition.

He could use a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee to announce that he will stand down. Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, would take over as interim leader.

Last night allies of Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, refused to deny reports that he would stand for the leadership — even though his older brother, David, is also a likely contender for the post. Other likely candidates are Ed Balls, Alan Johnson and Ms Harman herself.

While the focus is on the formal Tory-Liberal Democrat talks, informal contacts were being maintained over the weekend between Labour and Nick Clegg's party through “back channels”.

Ministers insist they have far more common ground with the Liberal Democrats — notably over electoral reform and reviving the economy — than the Tories have.

Several ministers believe that Mr Brown's continuing presence in Downing Street is undermining the party's fading chances of negotiating a deal with the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Brown, who remains Prime Minister, met ministers and Labour officials to discuss the party's next steps. They included Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, Ms Harman, Ed Miliband, author of the Labour manifesto, and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former press secretary.

Despite the apparent progress between the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Labour is keeping alive the prospect of an anti-Tory “progressive alliance”, including Scottish and Welsh nationalists, as well as Northern Ireland MPs.

Labour says Mr Brown is ready to negotiate with Mr Clegg if his talks with David Cameron collapse, offering him immediate legislation to hold a referendum on changing the voting system.

However, they acknowledge that his presence at the table could prove a stumbling block for Mr Clegg, who has made clear he would not prop up Mr Brown as Prime Minister.

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